Thousands evacuate after 2 dams fail in Michigan

Thousands are under evacuation orders in mid-Michigan Wednesday morning, each day after two dams failed following heavy rain across the state.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency Tuesday night for Midland County after both the Edenville and Sanford dams breached and urged immediate evacuations.
“If you’ve got a beloved or loved one who lives in another a part of the state, go there now,” she said. “If you do not , attend one among the shelters that have opened across the county.”

Residents should “seek higher ground” as Far East and west of the Tittabawassee River as possible, consistent with the town of Midland’s website.

“In subsequent 12 to fifteen hours, downtown Midland might be under approximately 9 feet of water,” Whitmer said Tuesday night during a press conference . “We are anticipating an historic high water level.”

The flooding comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, forcing officials to juggle two public safety crises directly . Shelters are established, and flood evacuees are being screened for the illness.
Any emergency order issued in response to the coronavirus crisis is suspended if it impedes emergency response efforts, the governor’s declaration said.

The National Weather Service in Detroit said a flash flood emergency continues in Midland County through 7:30 a.m. ET Wednesday.
The Tittabawassee River set a record Wednesday morning, surging at Midland past the old mark of 33.89 feet, set in September 1986. The river still was rising, and is forecast to crest there around 38 feet by around 8 p.m. ET before slowly receding.

About 3,500 homes and 10,000 people have thus far been suffering from the evacuation notices, Mark Bone, chairman of the Midland County Board of Commissioners, said he believes. No deaths or injuries are reported, he said.

Teams try to screen people arriving at the shelters, Bone said, and emergency personnel have many personal protective equipment and are wearing masks.

Masks are available for everybody going into the shelters, he said.
“To undergo this within the midst of a worldwide pandemic is nearly unthinkable. But we are here, and to the simplest of our ability we are getting to navigate this together,” Whitmer said.
“Please, to the simplest of your ability, still wear a face covering once you attend a shelter or go stick with a lover or relative,” Whitmer said.
The Michigan Army National Guard is on site, with 100 soldiers doing inspections round the area, Whitmer said.

MidMichigan center in Midland said it had been not evacuating.
“We are working alongside local agencies, watching closely the rapid changes that are occurring thanks to the flooding,” said Greg Rogers, the president, during a news release.
“We have transferred a couple of patients that were identified by their physician. we’ve no current plans to evacuate.”

The hospital said it’s made improvements to guard the hospital since the flood of 1986, which include a FEMA-approved flood wall located on center property and generators built above the flood plain. 

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