Major flooding in Michigan forced Dow Inc. to evacuate most workers from its Midland headquarters site May 19, but within days officials said recovery was under way.
In a statement released May 21 Dow officials said that flood waters had crested the night of May 20 and that the firm's focus "is shifting into a clean-up and recovery mode."
"We have begun implementing site recovery plans and will continue to advance site assessments as the situation safely allows," officials said. "This plan includes an inspection of all facilities and remediation assets along the Tittabawassee River as flood waters recede."
They added that no product releases or employee injuries have been reported. Officials also said that although flood waters mingled with an on-site brine pond, the material from the pond doesn't create any risk to residents or the environment.
Two dams failed following days of heavy rain on May 19, flooding the Tittabawassee River, destroying homes and flooding Midland as the river crested 11 feet over flood stage.
Even as the water was rising, Dow officials said all operating units on site have been safely shut down, except for facilities needed for safely managing chemical containment, and all rail cars are secured.
Dow assets on site include silicones as well as research and development operations and tenant assets. The silicones assets haven't been impacted by flood waters, but have been shut down because of lack of access to needed infrastructure.
"While we are in the early phases of recovery, we currently do not expect our Midland silicones assets to be offline for an extended period of time," officials said. "Business continuity plans are in place to ensure customer needs are met."
The emergency began when the 96-year-old Edenville Dam failed after 6 p.m. on May 19. Water that had made up Wixom Lake then overwhelmed the 95-year-old Sanford Dam downstream.
An estimated 11,000 residents near Midland were told to evacuate when the dams failed followed several days of heavy rain.
Midland is a city of 42,000 in central Michigan. Dow, one of the world's largest plastics and chemicals makers, has operated in Michigan since 1897.
Dow's Michigan Operations include production of plastics and specialty chemicals, as well as major R&D assets. Several other firms have operations at the Dow complex, including DuPont, Corteva Agriscience, Trinseo and SK Saran.
According to a Dow website, polymers made by the firm in Midland are used in food and liquid packaging. Other products made in Midland include adhesives for automotive bonding; coatings for airbags; herbicides and insecticides for agriculture; beauty, hair and personal care ingredients and health care materials for medical devices, drug delivery and pharmaceutical tubing.
On May 22, Dow announced a $1 million donation in disaster relief funding for flood recovery.
"Michigan's Great Lakes Bay Region has been Dow's home for more than 120 years, and we are committed to helping our employees and our neighbors as we recover from this historic flood," said Jim Fitterling, Dow chairman and CEO.
The funding includes $250,000 for a new Dow Employee Assistance Fund at the Midland Area Community Foundation to help Dow employees who have suffered emergency hardship from the flooding. It also includes $250,000 to the United Way of Midland County's Rise Together Fund, providing resources for thousands of families throughout Midland County who have been impacted by recent events. These funds will be matched by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.