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Wixom Lake residents left with surreal scene where water used to be

Wixom Lake was nearly empty a day after the Edenville Dam breached.
Wixom Lake was nearly empty a day after the Edenville Dam breached.(WJRT)
Published: May. 20, 2020 at 6:34 PM EDT
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(5/20/2020) - Residents on Wixom Lake woke up to a jarring sight -- no lake.

After the Edenville Dam collapsed on Tuesday evening, the lake drained almost completely overnight. A muddy mess with boats resting on the ground was all that remained.

Before that, water levels spilled way over the bank and flooded numerous homes.

At Norma Howe's residence, hardly any water is left. But there are clear signs of how high floodwaters reached inside her home before the dam break sent the lake gushing south toward Midland.

"It's terrible. I don't know what else to say," Howe said.

The inside of her home is now a dried out swamp.

"When we came in, the freezer was knocked over. The refrigerator was knocked over. So everything's gotta be replaced," Howe said.

Her children and grandchildren helped her salvage what could be saved, but it wasn't much.

"The floor's got to be replaced. The dishwasher's gotta go. I just bought an electric stove, it's full of water. And I just bought a dryer, it's gone," Howe said.

She has lived at her home for 30 years and collected three decades of cherished memories and mementoes – all taken away in the blink of an eye.

"I don't know what we're going to do," Howe said.

She plans to stay with her children while she decides how to proceed.

Up and down the shores of what used to be Wixom Lake, residents stared in disbelief at the empty lake bottom.

“Horrendous. It’s just horrendous," said Sheila Mesler, who lives near Edenville Dam. "Unbelievable, unbelievable. It’s gone in a minute like that, it’s just gone.”

Boats could be seen just lying in the sand and mud while homeowners looked out at the surreal scene wondering what to do. People walked around on what used to be their aquatic and recreational playground.

“A lot of people don’t understand the power of water," said James Carl. "I grew up on a lake my whole life. The water it will get you if you don’t be careful.”

Sue Carl said she has worked around quite a few disasters throughout the United States, but this one hit close to home in her own backyard.

“It’s just dark and devastating to me,” she said.

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