About 10,000 people were told to evacuate from parts of Michigan after floodwaters caused two dams to fail following heavy rain across the state.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency Tuesday for Midland County after the Edenville and Sanford dams breached and warned that downtown Midland could be under 9 feet of water by Wednesday afternoon.
Her office has been in touch with the federal government and will ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for support.
The floods have surpassed a high point of 33.9 feet set by a downpour in 1986, known as “the worst natural disaster in the state’s modern history.”
The dam collapses have led to impassable roads, a boil water advisory — and raised regulatory questions about Edenville Dam’s hydro-power generating license. It was unclear whether there were any fatalities from the flooding.
Here’s what you need to know about the flooding.
Which Michigan dams are failing and where are they?
Several dams upstream of Midland along the Tittabawassee had either been breached or were releasing water uncontrollably after after 4 to 7 inches of rain fell Sunday and Monday. The Tittabawassee River in Midland entered major flood stage Tuesday morning when the river was observed at 28.25 feet at 10:15 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage is 24 feet.
By Tuesday afternoon, at least two rivers in mid-Michigan — the Tittabawassee River in Midland and the Rifle River near Sterling — had reached their major flood stage.
The Edenville Dam on the Tittabawassee River, which is owned by Boyce Hydro, breached Tuesday evening. A flash flood warning issued by the National Weather Service warned to expect flooding of small creeks, streams and other low-lying areas.
The dam, whose owners had its hydro-power generating license revoked in 2018 for its inability to withstand a major flood, is a 6,600-foot earthen embankment up to 54.5 feet in height, spanning both the Tittabawassee and Tobacco Rivers in Midland and Gladwin counties.