Floods knock out parts of Midland sewer system as record-breaking crest nears

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MIDLAND (WJRT) (5/20/2020) - Five of Midland's 42 sewer pumps are submerged and not functioning, knocking out service to much of the city hours before a record-breaking crest of the Tittabawassee River.

Floodwaters nearly cover mailboxes on North Saginaw Street in Midland.

The river crested in Midland at 35 feet on Wednesday evening before floodwaters began to recede. Authorities call the floods a 500-year event and say effects from the flood will continue for weeks.

Midland City Manager Brad Kaye said the city's drinking water has not been affected by flooding, but the sewer system is offline primarily west of Eastman Avenue between U.S. 10 and M-20.

A neighborhood east of Eastman Avenue between Saginaw Street and U.S. 10 also has no sewer service, along with St. Charles Park.

All residents without sewer service must leave their homes until service is restored. Sanitary sewer and storm sewer backups are possible while the pumps remain offline.

City officials hope to inspect the pumps and restore service as soon as floodwaters recede.

Three emergency evacuation shelters in Midland County remain open for anyone affected by the flooding:
-- Midland High School on Eastlawn Drive.
-- North Midland Family Center (pet-friendly).
-- West Midland Family Center.

The shelters were providing housing for about 500 people Wednesday afternoon. They were doing their best to practice social distancing and follow coronavirus prevention guidelines.

The shelter coordinator for all five sites says they've been overwhelmed with support and donations from the community. The only thing truly needed right now is hand sanitizer.

People who want to donate are encouraged to call the United Way of Midland County at 989-631-3670 or 211 to find out where other items are most needed.

Anyone who evacuated is asked to avoid returning home until authorities give the OK.

"For those that may be sort of at the edges of the water right now, it could potentially put you entirely underwater within the next few hours, so don't let up," Kaye said. "Don't take it easy at this point in time. Don't think we're done in that we're past the peak, because we simply are not at that point."

MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland hospital borders the area without sewer service, which Kaye said is a concern. However, the hospital has not moved to fully evacuate and continues to monitor the situation.

Onlookers could be seen all over Midland taking pictures of the flooding and splashing in the water in some cases. Officials urge everyone to stay home so roads remain clear and avoid contact with floodwaters.

"There's simply no reason to put yourself at harm or put our first responders and emergency providers at harm by looking you're trying thinking you can make it through that water," Kaye said.

He also advised motorists not to drive around barricades and to avoid driving through water.

"People need to obey. Those rules are there for a reason," Kaye said. "It's your life safety -- not only of yourself but our own first responders. So please pay attention to those and again stay home when you can."