Sanford Strong – Sanford Voices is documenting the personal and family stories of the catastrophic flooding caused by the dam failures, and the recovery that comes after. We are focused on Sanford because of the strength and resilience the community immediately showed in pulling together after the flood. 

Over the next year, Central Michigan University faculty and staff are lending their expertise to record the voices of Sanford residents and helpers so that they will never be lost. When disasters strike, communities are far too busy dealing with the struggles of recovery to record and archive individual stories; our job is to help with that. 

We let residents and helpers tell their stories in their own words. We are not investigating things political, looking for blame, or telling Sanford’s history. Sanford was hit by disaster, and the recovery will come from the hands of Sanford residents. The words to describing that recovery should come from the people of Sanford, too.


What Happens to the Interviews?

  • All interviews are videotaped and transcribed and will be archived at Central Michigan University. Archival materials are generally available about two years after a project is completed.  
  • We plan to make a documentary suitable for public television about a year for now using the interviews. 
  • Everything we collect will be given to our partners, the Sanford History Society.

Who is Doing This?

The project lead is Prof. Richard M. Rothaus, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Rothaus is an historian and archaeologist who has worked on multiple projects in throughout the world, including documenting disaster areas. A newcomer to Michigan, Rothaus believes academics need to find ways to use their skills to help the communities where they live. Adam Miedema is our Emmy-award winning videographer, a lifelong Michigander and graduate of MSU and CMU.

Can We Interview You?

If your family was directly impacted by the flood we would really like to interview with us, please contact the CMU Museum at (989) 774-3829 or Prof. Rothaus at rotha1r@cmich.edu.