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Sanford institution set to reopen after last May's flood

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

More than ten months after a devastating flood, a Sanford institution is reopening on Easter Sunday.

The May 19 failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams after days of heavy rain contributed to a 500-year floodevent that inundated parts of Midland and Gladwin counties. Thousands of people were forced from their homes. The flood caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

The scars of the 500-year flood event are still visible in Sanford, but so are signs of rebuilding.

Melissa Ayotte’s family has owned the Red Oak restaurant in Sanford since 1973. She says the flood waters rose to nearly the ceiling of the one story brick building. 

Ayotte says it took about half a million dollars to rehab the building and replace equipment damaged in the flood. She says they received a $200,000 grant from the Midland Community Foundation, along with the Three Rivers Corporation.

Ayotte says their goal was to reopen by Easter.

“It’s always has been significant to our family because we’ve always been here,” says Ayotte.

COVID-19 restrictions will prevent the restaurant from reopening to its full capacity.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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