MIDLAND COUNTY (WJRT) (5/19/2020) - Residents along the Tittabawassee River below the Edenville and Sanford dams are urged to evacuate as the structures are failing.
Flooding in the Sanford area on May 19, 2020 (courtesy of Michael Connell - TC Vortex)
Midland County 911 issued an emergency flash flood warning around 5:45 p.m. Tuesday advising the Edenville Dam breached. Around 7 p.m., they issued another warning that the Sanford Dam was about to collapse.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said water eventually breached Sanford Dam later in the evening. Water levels downstream toward the city of Midland were expected to rise rapidly.
Whitmer said downtown Midland could be under 9 feet of water Tuesday night.
An Midland County 911 advisory says life-threatening flash flooding is possible along the Tittabawassee River below the Edenville Dam heading toward the Sanford Dam and farther downstream.
Anyone in low-lying areas between the Edenville and Sanford dams through the city of Midland was ordered to seek higher ground immediately.
Midland residents west of Eastman Avenue and south of U.S. 10 were advised to evacuate and find higher ground. The Midland Mall and Midland High School are available for anyone who needs a place to go.
Thousands more residents near the Tittabawassee River in Midland and Saginaw counties also were ordered to evacuate.
Power got knocked out at Coleman High School, so residents seeking shelter there are moving to the West Midland Family Center at 4011 W. Isabella Road.
Midland County 911 asked residents to avoid calling unless they need assistance evacuating. They told residents in the area to leave on their own immediately.
Officials closed U.S. 10 at Sanford Lake in both directions due to floodwaters. M-30 also was closed over the Tittabawassee River.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an emergency declaration for the area Tuesday evening to make sure local authorities have the resources necessary to respond.
She called up the Michigan National Guard and they already had troops in Midland County on Tuesday evening. More troops were expected to arrive later Tuesday or Wednesday.
Whitmer said Michigan's Emergency Operations Center in Lansing has been activated to assist with responding to the dam collapse. Michigan State Police also other state agencies had staff in the area.
The Edenville and Sanford dams have been at maximum capacity all day after heavy rains sent the Tittabawassee River spilling over its banks. The river reached major flooding levels in Midland on Tuesday and continued rising.
The National Weather Service expects the river will crest on Wednesday at 38 feet -- about 4 feet above the highest level on record. A Flash Flood Warning has been issued for the Tittabawassee River until 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Gladwin County picked up between 4 to 6 inches of rainfall since this weather system moved overhead. That water is piling up behind the dams, leading to their likely failures.