• Midland County, Michigan in state of emergency after two dams were breached after heavy rainfall since Sunday
  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said water could flood downtown Midland
  • 10,000 people from Midland and surrounding towns affected by evacuation in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic

A state of emergency was declared for Midland, Michigan as two dams are breached in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

A flash flood emergency has been raised in Midland Country through 7:30AM, Wednesday (May 20). The warnings were issued after the National Weather Services reported 4 to 7 inches of rainfall since Sunday with heavy runoff that pushed rivers higher.

In a press conference late Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged residents to evacuate and said the state was evacuating or had already evacuated parts of the city and the surrounding towns.

“This is a truly historic event that’s playing out in the midst of another historic event,” Whitmer said.

In a press release, Whitmer said that the Edenville and Sanford Dams near Midland had been breached, and called for the immediate evacuation of Midland Country.

She also said that the state was anticipating historically high levels of floodwater, and warned that downtown Midland could be under roughly nine feet of water “in the next 12 to 15 hours.”

Whitmer said it was unthinkable that a disaster was occurring on top of the current global coronavirus pandemic, “but we are here, and to the best of our ability we are going to navigate this together. 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.”

Residents were warned door-to-door early Tuesday morning by emergency responders about the rising floodwaters, allowed to return, and then told to leave when the Edenville dam was breached. Families along the Tittabawassee River that connects the lakes in Midland County were ordered to leave their homes for the second time in just 24 hours.

As floodwaters overtook the dams, 10,000 people were forced to evacuate. Mark Bone, chairman of the Midland County Board of Commissioners, told CNN that around 3,500 homes have been affected by the evacuation orders with no reports of casualties or injuries.

Both the Edenville Dam and the Sanford Dam, which were breached, were built in the 1920s and are currently being sold off after Edenville Dam’s operators had their licenses revoked by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2018.