May 20, 2020

Michigan County Declares State of Emergency After Flooding

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Midland County after two dams failed in the area

flood control

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for one county after two dams failed in the area.

This dam failure comes after heavy rains and flash floods took the state by storm, according to CNN. The Edenville and Sanford Dams breached on the same night, according to the governor. She urged residents to evacuate the affected areas in Midland County as soon as possible.

"If you have a family member or loved one who lives in another part of the state, go there now," said Whitmer. "If you don't, go to one of the shelters that have opened across the county."

Residents were told to seek higher ground, as far east and west of the Tittabawassee River as possible, according to the City of Midland website.

"In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately nine feet of water," Whitmer said in a news conference. "We are anticipating a historic high water level."

According to Mark Bone, chairman of the Midland County Board of Commissioners, approximately 3,500 homes and 10,000 people have so far been affected by the evacuation notices. No deaths or injuries have been reported so far. The City of Midland website also urges residents to visit and select the "Dam Failure" layer. If residents live in the shaded area, they should plan to evacuate, according to the city. 

The timing of the dam breaches is particularly difficult due to precautions being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), as people gathered in the shelters that were set up. Masks were provided in the shelters, reported CNN.

Teams are trying to screen individuals being sheltered, said Bone. Emergency response personnel have personal protective equipment and are wearing masks as well, reported CNN.

"To go through this in the midst of a global pandemic is almost unthinkable. But we are here, and to the best of our ability we are going to navigate this together," Whitmer said. "So please, to the best of your ability, continue to wear a face covering when you go to a shelter or go stay with a friend or relative."

The Michigan National Guard has been activated and is on site with high-water vehicles on the way to the area, added Whitmer. The state's emergency operations center has also been fully activated.

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