Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for Midland County after the Edenville and Sanford dams were breached following heavy rainstorms. About 10,000 people could be evacuated, ABC News reports.
“In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately nine feet of water,” Whitmer said Thursday night at a press conference. “We are anticipating an historic high water level.”
Michigan as a whole remains under a state of emergency and disaster for the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in more than 52,000 cases and 5,000 deaths in the state.
“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.”
Whitmer said earlier on Thursday that the State Emergency Operations Center was activated and state officials from multiple departments have been on-site throughout Thursday. The National Guard has been activated.
Dow Chemical, a major employer in Midland, also has activated its emergency operations center.
“If you have a family member or loved one who lives in another part of the state, go there now,” Whitmer said. “If you don’t, go to one of the shelters that have opened across the county.”
Shelters have are open at:
- Midland High School at 1301 Eastlawn,
- Bullock Creek High School at 1420 S. Badour,
- and the West Midland Family Center at 4011 W Isabella.
ABC News reports that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2018 revoked the license of the company that operated the Edenville Dam “due to non-compliance issues that included spillway capacity and the inability to pass the most severe flood reasonably possible in the area.”
The state rated the dam in unsatisfactory condition that year. The Sanford Dam received a fair condition rating. Both dams are being sold, ABC reports.