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150 residents of Midland's Riverside Place evacuating as floodwaters rise

About 150 residents of Riverside Place in Midland had to evacuate quickly as floodwaters rose after the Edenville Dam collapsed on the Tittabawassee River.
About 150 residents of Riverside Place in Midland had to evacuate quickly as floodwaters rose after the Edenville Dam collapsed on the Tittabawassee River.(WJRT)
Published: May. 19, 2020 at 11:56 PM EDT
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(5/19/2020) - About 150 residents of Riverside Place in Midland, many with walkers or riding in wheelchairs, had to evacuate hastily Tuesday evening as floodwaters rose.

The Edenville Dam collapsed and the Sanford Dam about seven miles downstream breached, sending a torrent of water down the Tittabawassee River toward downtown Midland.

Authorities ordered an evacuation of all city residents west of Eastman Avenue and south of U.S. 10, including Riverside Place.

Residents were carrying luggage as they were escorted outside, many with walkers or riding wheelchairs. Family members picked up some, but most residents took a bus to emergency shelters at the Midland Mall and Midland High School.

Staff at Riverside Place had been monitoring water levels all day.

"When we realized that the water was going to get higher, we started bagging sand, and we've gotten all the lower part of the building protected," said Toni Mclennan, who works as a maintenance technician at the complex. "And then, of course, as we got more information, we knew we had to get our residents out of the building."

She said even though residents evacuated and many are with their families, staff members are checking on them. They left in good spirits since many have lived through worse.

But Mclennan aid it's not as easy for her to watch.

"Sadness. The hope that they come back," she said. "I mean, especially with this pandemic and you're getting people in close quarters, it's probably that much more scary."

Mclennan conducted a sweep of the building to make sure everyone left safely.

Mark Bone, who is chairman of the Midland County Board of Commissioners, agrees that most people haven't seen an emergency of this scale before, so he's urging residents to take this evacuation much more seriously.

"It's something once in a lifetime, and we wish we weren't going through it, but we are, so we'll do with it and get through it and come back strong," Bone said.

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