After 2 Dams Fail, Mich. Gov. Warns of 9 Feet of Water

Whitmer urges thousands in affected areas of Midland County in Michigan to evacuate
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2020 6:40 AM CDT

Two dams have failed in a Michigan county, leading the state's governor to declare a state of emergency and issue dire warnings to residents to evacuate affected areas. AccuWeather reports that the Edenville and Sanford dams in Midland County breached Tuesday night after heavy rains and flash flooding, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a livestreamed news conference to plead with people to seek higher ground, especially in areas near the Tittabawassee River, including the city of Midland. "In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately 9 feet of water," Whitmer said at the presser, per Reuters. "We are anticipating an historic high water level." The National Weather Service is calling the situation "an extremely dangerous" one, per the BBC. In a release, Whitmer implored residents to go stay with loved ones elsewhere in the state or head to a shelter.

The AP notes the Edenville Dam, built in 1924, received an "unsatisfactory" rating in 2018 from the state; the Sanford Dam, built a year later, received a "fair" rating. Midland County official Mark Bone tells CNN about 10,000 people had been evacuated as of early Wednesday, leading to another dilemma: how to house locals in the county's shelters while adhering to social distancing guidelines brought by the coronavirus. He says masks are being made available to everyone coming in to the shelters. People are also having their temperatures taken, and emergency responders are wearing personal protective equipment. "To go through this in the midst of a global pandemic is almost unthinkable," Whitmer said, adding that the state's National Guard has also been activated to respond to the emergency situation. "But ... to the best of our ability we are going to navigate this together." (More Michigan stories.)

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