“Catastrophic” Floods Underway as Michigan Dam Failures Force Evacuation

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The failure of two dams in Michigan, caused by heavy rain on Tuesday evening, has caused record flooding in nearby communities as thousands of residents evacuate their homes.

The collapse of the Edenville Dam and the Sanford Dam, about 140 miles north of Detroit, released flood water that flooded homes and businesses along the Tittabawassee River and prompted the National Weather Service to issue a rare flash flood emergency.

The Tittabawassee River, which has already reached a record height of almost 35 feet at 9 a.m. Wednesday and continues to climb rapidly, is expected to peak at 38 feet at 8 p.m. tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer released an emergency statement for the state and warned that downtown Midland could be under about 9 feet of water on Wednesday.

“This is one of those nightmarish scenarios that meteorologists hope will never happen,” meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote in a tweet. “We are in a climate emergency. “

An aerial view of the flooding as water floods the Sanford, Michigan, United States dam in this still image of May 19, 2020 obtained from a video on social media.

TC Vortex | via REUTERS

Dow Chemical’s main plant is located on the shore of Midland, a facility connected to a Superfund site due to the presence of the carcinogenic chemical dioxin in the river bed below the plant.

The floods in Michigan have already reached the Dow Chemical Facility. The headquarters were mostly evacuated and the company said on its Facebook page that it had activated its local emergency operations center and its flood preparedness plan.

Floods caused by extreme weather in the United States have already flooded chemical factories and released deadly carcinogens in nearby neighborhoods.

Heavy precipitation and older and weaker dam infrastructure caused the two dams to collapse. The Edenville Dam, built in 1924, was assessed in an unsatisfactory condition in 2018 by the state, and the Sanford Dam, built a year later, was assessed in fair condition.

Authorities are urging residents to evacuate amid deadly dangers, and are also asking people to wear masks and distance themselves socially to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated. Response teams screen people arriving at evacuation shelters and provide protective equipment to prevent the spread of the disease.

“Going through this in the midst of a global pandemic is almost unthinkable. But we are here, and to the best of our ability, we will sail together, ”said Whitmer.

People are helping each other to get from one home to another using an inflatable raft on Oakridge Road on Lake Wixom on Tuesday May 19, 2020 in Beaverton, Michigan. People living along two Michigan lakes and parts of a river were evacuated after several days of heavy rain which caused flooding and pressure on the region’s dams.

Katy Kildee | Midland Daily News | AP

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