Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared a state of emergency for one county after two dams breached on the same day, warning that downtown Midland could be under nine feet of water in just 12 hours as thousands evacuate.
Both the Edenville and Sanford dams near Midland breached on Tuesday after several days of heavy rainfall, sending a torrent of water downstream along the Tittabawassee River and prompting the governor to issue an evacuation order for the area’s 10,000 or so residents.
“If you have not evacuated the area, do so now and get somewhere safe,” Whitmer said in a statement, noting the state’s National Guard had been activated and warning the city of Midland could be devastated by flooding as soon as Wednesday.
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.
Several images and videos have emerged on social media showing the progress of the flooding and some of the damage caused, while one clip captured the moment the Edenville dam failed.
A viewer caught the moment when the Edenville Dam collapsed.— WNEM TV5 (@WNEMTV5news) May 19, 2020
Video courtesy of Kayla Danielle pic.twitter.com/NYBnXJd2eq
Local officials have urged residents to get as far away from the Tittabawassee River as possible and to seek high ground. The surrounding area contains several densely populated communities and a number of chemical plants that could fall in the path of the massive flood.
A model of the potential damage from this dams break. Keep in mind the model does not take into effect the Sanford dam. We will post an updated on once it is available.#EdenvilleDam #Midland #Michigan #USA— Aurora Intel – #StayHome (@AuroraIntel) May 20, 2020
In addition to the Tittabawassee River, the Rifle River near Sterling has also reached a stage of major flooding, prompting the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue emergency flash flood warnings in locations near the failed dams.