Experts describe flooding as "500-year" event, Gov. Whitmer says flood is "incredibly damaging"

(Source: WILX)
(Source: WILX)(WILX)
Published: May. 19, 2020 at 8:07 PM EDT
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Experts are calling it a "500-year" event, a historic flood devasting thousands in Central Michigan after multiple dams fail, sending catastrophic amounts of water into neighborhoods, downtown areas and washing through entire communities.

Thousands of people have been impacted by the flood with close to 10,000 being evacuated from their homes; the rest are trying to snap themselves out of shock.

"Oh my God, it's really happening? It's something you would never think would happen," said Ryan Gordon, a Midland resident.

Water from the Tittabawassee River breached Edenville and Sanford dams Tuesday evening. The heavy rain over the last couple of days was part of the problem, but investigators are also blaming poor infrastructure on the dams. The breach sent evacuation orders to nearly 3,500 homes.

"To me, that's frustrating to know that was somebody's job to take care of that and they didn't," said Danyelle, an evacuated resident. "I remember our teacher asked before what we would do if the dam took out all of the bridges and nobody had an answer. Nobody ever fathoms this would happen."

Governor Gretchen Whitmer made the trip to Midland to tour the area. Massive damage hit the city of Midland. Curtis Road bridge collapsed and thousands were left without power.

"It's devastating," Gov. Whitmer said. "We know that this water is incredibly damaging."

"We were here last night watching this bridge and it was horrible. You would hear trees crack and blooms and it was devastating," said Beau Mayberry, a Midland resident.

'We have seen it on History Channel many times in different states, different countries and say 'wow, how can that happen?' But it's real."

Curtis Rd bridge collapses due to heavy flooding in Midland. This follows the failure of the Edenville Dam

Posted by WILX Maureen Halliday on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The governor said there are no casualties from the flood at this time and said she plans to talk with FEMA in hopes they will be able to provide relief to the state quickly. She said she will have more information on the status with FEMA in the coming days.

During her press conference, the governor said the state of Michigan is reviewing every potential legal recourse available due to the breach of the dams and declared a State of Emergency for Midland County Tuesday night.

"This incredible damage requires that we hold people responsible," Gov. Whitmer said.

In a press release sent to News 10, the governor and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel are "exploring any legal avenue available to assist Michigan residents who are recovering from the flood in Midland County and secure compensation for damages to public property and natural resources."

“The damage from this crisis has devastated thousands of Midland County residents and business owners,” said Governor Whitmer. “We must work together to ensure everyone who has been impacted by this event has the support they need to recover. I will work with the Attorney General and my partners at the state and federal level to help our families through this, and to help them get back on their feet once it’s safe to return home.”

“As Michigan continues to grapple with a deadly virus, our resiliency is being tested as the state is thrust into another emergency situation,” Attorney General Nessel said. “My office will work with the Governor to consider any and all legal options that are available to address this serious set of circumstances. Throughout our state’s history, Michiganders have come together in difficult times, and this time will be no different.”

Those who are seeking shelter say they are trying to stay positive in all of this.

"It's rough but everybody has been nice and helpful," a Midland resident, who wished to remain anonymous said. "At least I have my family."

The Michigan National Guard is providing assistance in Midland. The Michigan State Emergency Operations Center said about 130 soldiers and more than 40 specialized vehicles have arrived in Midland.

The National Guard is using equipment such as Light Medium Tactical Vehicles which are capable of driving through high water.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has also sent officers to help evacuate residents and pets. The Ingham County Animal Shelter is also sending help to Midland pets.

The shelter said volunteers will be traveling to Midland to deliver food, cat litter, cages and more. The shelter said the items have been donated. If you wish to donate pet supplies, you can drop them at the Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter, located on 600 Buhl Street in Mason.

Officials say water levels are expected to rise until about 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

Gov. Whitmer said if you are in an area that is highly-impacted to get somewhere safe.

These shelters remain open until further notice at the following locations:

* Midland High School at 1301 Eastlawn,

* Meridian Junior High School at 3475 N. Meridian Road,

* Bullock Creek High School at 1420 S. Badour,

* West Midland Family Center at 4011 W Isabella.

The governor urged residents looking for information not to call 911. For more information, visit the City of Midland

, or visit the city's

You can watch the governor's press conference here:


WATCH: Governor Whitmer gives an update on the flooding in Midland.

Posted by WILX News 10 on Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Following the governor's briefing, Midland officials also held a press conference. You can watch that here:

WATCH: Officials hold second presser in Midland County.

WATCH: Officials hold second presser in Midland County.

Posted by WILX News 10 on Wednesday, May 20, 2020
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