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Wings' Svechnikov helps Midland after '500-year' flood

Forward teamed with younger brother, who donated in NC

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

As he saw a lot of people suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Wings forward Evgeny Svechnikov knew he wanted to do something to help.

Then while Svechnikov was in Michigan, there was a significant amount of rain that caused yet another huge problem.

When both the Edenville Dam and Sanford Dam failed on May 19, it left Midland, Mich. in disaster.

In addition to fighting the pandemic like the rest of the world, the area had to face what experts have called a 500-year flooding event.

Midland's Tittabawassee River reached a record 35 feet and the flooding forced more than 10,000 residents to evacuate their homes.

Tweet from @DavidGuralnick: Edenville dam failed last week & all of Wixom Lake crashed down the Tittabawasee River into Sanford Lake (this pic). This split open Sanford dam, flooding the area. Lakes hold the ingredients of a life on the water: Pontoons, kayaks, propane pigs, docks, tubes, coolers, jet-skis. pic.twitter.com/raAc1YWJ4Q

"I was there in that rain," Svechnikov said in a phone interview Sunday. "In Muskegon it was horrible, then I got to see the (photos of the) flooding. It's crazy. You never know. You can just live and never expect what can happen.

"I just feel bad. We wanted to help with that stuff. Midland got so flooded so we decided to go there."

With the help of a good friend, Svechnikov donated 2,500 KN95 face masks and 25 kegs of hand sanitizer to the United Way of Midland County.

"The navigation of a 500-year flood during a global pandemic is something that we never anticipated having to deal with," said Beth Sorenson Prince, Director of Impact and Capacity Building at United Way of Midland County. "Donations of hand sanitizers and PPE (personal protective equipment) are vital now more than ever as we have groups coming together to help with relief efforts in our region.

"The generous donation of face masks and hand sanitizer from the Detroit Red Wings will go to volunteers and members of our community who are serving as 'boots on the ground' to help our neighbors. This is a long-term recovery effort, and we need to continue to keep our people healthy because this is going to take years to recover from. Even before the flood, hand sanitizer and masks were in short order, so to be able to mobilize from outside our community and receive these critical relief supplies is crucial and appreciated."

Those who know Svechnikov would not be surprised by his generosity, nor would they be surprised that he teamed up with his younger brother, Andrei, a forward for the Carolina Hurricanes, to make a difference.

"We were sitting and wanted to help people," Svechnikov said. "My friend that lives in Muskegon, very close friend of ours, he kind of helped us with that. He helped us with that in a lot of ways. He knew the people that do all the products and everything so he helped us with that. He lives in Muskegon, great guy, one of the best friends of ours.

"(Andrei) wanted to help in North Carolina, I wanted to help in Detroit. We asked team community (relations), what's the best way and that flood had just happened in Midland. So they said that would be the best place for right now. Most of it went to individual people. United Way helped that way with individuals, just impacting all of them, by that flood. It's a great way and it's huge to help. There were a lot of people impacted and that was the best way at that point."

Andrei Svechnikov's donation went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County and the two brothers got to visit the site and make the delivery in person.

Tweet from @Canes: Svech stepped up in the community today, donating disposable masks and hand sanitizer to the @WakeBGC ��������� pic.twitter.com/B01qKPzB4l

"My brother helped the Boys and Girls Club and that was awesome, too. I went with him to that place. They welcomed us really warm and were so happy and appreciated it. Unfortunately, I couldn't go to Midland but they give me a call and they were very happy and everything they got, it'll help for sure. I'm just happy to help and make people happy."

During the 2016-17 season, Andrei Svechnikov played in the USHL for the Muskegon Lumberjacks.

That is where the Svechnikovs met their friend who was able to help the brothers get the masks and hand sanitizer, which is from Muskegon's Burl and Sprig Premium Spirits.

"He knows a lot of people that do that company and make sanitizer and masks. He said, I can help you and it will be amazing to help the people out and the teams will help you out," Svechnikov said. "It's just a great way to support people where we can. We know him when my brother played in Muskegon. He helped us around so much, my first year in Grand Rapids and my brother's first year and my mom's first year in North America, he was helping a lot with a lot of stuff. Since then, we just kind of got closer and closer. So we've known each other for four or five years now. He's a very good friend of our family and an amazing person. He helped us to find the products and help us to send out."

Svechnikov even helped pack up the supplies at his friend's warehouse before they were shipped to Midland and Raleigh, North Carolina.

Svechnikov said he and his brother are grateful to be able to give back, especially since they did not have a lot growing up.

"It was cool to go to the Boys and Girls Club. It was nice to help my little brother," Svechnikov said. "They were so happy for my brother to help them. The director of the place was super happy. I felt like it was a big deal for them, huge deal. The kids coming in, hopefully in like a month or so. They can't wait to get the kids back. They showed us the facility and explained everything, how much it means to them. There's other people that donate food, all kinds of different food.

"It just makes you feel so good and appreciate, because when we were growing up, we never had things like kids have these days. So it makes you feel helpful and you can do something. Me and my brother wanted to do that."

While Svechnikov's donation has already made a big impact, there are still major needs in Midland.

"As we move into the rebuilding phase of flood relief, different resources will be needed," Sorenson Prince said. "These resources will include construction materials, contractors, and financial resources to provide mental health support. Those who wish to help can contribute monetary donations to United Way of Midland County's Rise Together Fund located at https://eportal.unitedwaymidland.org/risetogether."

Tweet from @UW_Midland: WAYS TO HELP! At this time these are the ways you can help ensure that needs are met as this situation evolves. 1. VOLUNTEER ALERT https://t.co/2RlnAguiul 2. DONATE https://t.co/ge6PXrlSsN3. SUPPLY DONATIONS SURVEY https://t.co/6S5Au1fLch#MidlandDam #michiganflood #Midland pic.twitter.com/79j1wxUA7u

It has only been a few weeks since the flood but Midland and its residents are slowly beginning to recover.

"Midland has always had the reputation of being a resilient community that pulls together when we need it most. This situation is no different," Sorenson Prince said. "The flood and pandemic are going to have huge long-term effects on our community, and playing the long game is what is most important. Midland is strong. We have outstanding resources that have been offered to us, and we are all determined and motivated to rebuild our community."

Except for a brief trip to Michigan, Svechnikov has been in Raleigh, sheltering in place with Andrei.

It is certainly beneficial that both men are hockey players so they can stay in shape and have fun together.

"We just came from the beach, we were on the beach for two days all the weekend," Svechnikov said. "We were there, we were fishing, we were playing on the beach, we were on the water. We had friends here that spent time with us. They have a house there. We go there on the weekends and come back and work out all week, relax and play tennis, whatever we can really."

While Svechnikov would have loved to be competing in the Calder Cup playoffs with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, he has been happy to spend time with his family.

"That's very thankful time now because we don't get any time together all season pretty much, all year long, barely, a few times we see each other," Svechnikov said. "In the offseason we go different ways sometimes, with injuries and stuff. It's amazing, it's been like, two months together and my parents pretty much. It can't get better to spend time with family, appreciate this time. But of course it's tough for all the people in all this time who can't do anything. Think about the positive. It's nice to have my brother, always competing, always playing games. It's cool."

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