USA – Thousands Told to Evacuate in Michigan After Dams Fail

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared an emergency for Midland County on 19 May after 2 dams failed.

The Edenville and Sanford dams in Midland County were breached after heavy rain over the past few days and residents nearby have been told to evacuate immediately.

“If you have not evacuated the area, do so now and get somewhere safe,” said Governor Whitmer.

Several shelters have been set up in schools and public buildings to house those evacuating. Officials said that evacuation notices affect around 10,000 people from 3,500 homes in the towns of Edenville, Sanford and parts of the city of Midland.

Governor Whitmer added: “This is unlike anything we’ve seen in Midland County. If you have a family member or loved one who lives in another part of the state, go there now. If you don’t, go to one of the shelters that have opened across the county. I want to thank the emergency responders, Michigan National Guard members, and the Michigan State Police on the ground helping residents evacuate. Stay safe, and take care of each other.”

Midland residents were also advised to seek higher ground as far as possible from the Tittabawassee river which is at Major Flood stage, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

NWS Detroit said: “Flash Flood Emergencies in effect for entire length of the Tittabawassee River in Midland county. Dangerous flash flooding ongoing!” The Tittabawassee in Midland is expected to crest on 20 May at around 38 feet / 11.58 metres, well above the record high of 33.9 feet / 10.33 metres set in September 1986. Major Flood stage here is 28 feet / 8.53 metres.

Levels of the Tittabawassee River at Midland. Image: NWS / NOAA

Wide areas of the Midwest have seen heavy rain over the last week, with flooding reported in Michigan and Illinois. NWS Detroit said daily rainfall records were set at all south east Michigan climate sites on 18 May, beating previous records set in 2000. NWS said Tri Cities recorded 3.12 inches / 79.24mm (previous record was 1.20″ / 30.48mm), Flint 2.57″ / 65.28 mm (2.23″ / 56.64mm) and Detroit 1.71″ / 43.43mm (1.50″ / 38.1mm).

The heavy rain caused flash floods and river levels to increase, including the Tittabawassee , Saginaw and Shiawassee.

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