By Allie Ouendag
In a public address, the afternoon of May 20, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared another state of an emergency pertaining to the breach and collapse of two dams in Midland County. Whitmer stressed the immediate evacuation of nearly 10,000 residents in the areas surrounding the Edenville and Sanford dams.
It was estimated that within 12 to 15 hours after the address was given downtown Midland could be under approximately nine feet of standing water. These record-breaking levels are expected to surpass the historic 1986 floods of the Tittabawassee River by more than four feet.
Whitmer has called upon numerous outside relief services to help aid local and state safety officers during this crisis. This includes activation of the National Guard, 125 Infantry Regiment, 51st Civil Support Team out of Fort Custard, and the Red Cross.
Additionally, emergency shelters have been opened at the following Midland locations:
Midland High School,1301 Eastlawn,
Bullock Creek High School, 1420 S. Badour,
and the West Midland Family Center, 4011 W. Isabella.
Despite the large number of people evacuating Midland these shelters each have the capacity of up to 100 people, some 150. For this reason, it is recommended that residents reach out to the kindness of friends and family in a safe area for a place to stay. Whitmer also encourages all residents staying at emergency shelters to continue practicing social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment to limit the spread of COVID-19 within these cramped spaces.
“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… please try to protect yourself if you are able.”
There are a number of street closures throughout Midland and residents are advised to adhere to all road closed signs to avoid standing water. The governor also stressed the importance of staying clear of all hazardous submerged electrical items.
Whitmer thanked the first responders working to help secure the safety of all affected citizens.
“I want to thank the people that are risking their lives on the front lines, the first responders, the emergency response officials, the Michigan State Police, the Michigan National Guard, all of the first responders on the local level, everyone who is helping out, thank you for helping us get through this.”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration river forecasts, the Tittabawassee River is currently at 35.8 feet and is not expected to reach a low stage until May 25.