The Edenville and Sanford Dams in central Michigan have burst following two days of heavy rainfall which brought between 4 to 7 inches of water to areas of the state. Both structures were on the Tittabawassee River, which has subsequently surged to a height of more than 35 feet… well below the projected spike of 38 feet, but still a historic 11 feet above what is considered flood level in Midland, Michigan.
More than 10,000 people – roughly a quarter of the population of the city 8 miles downstream of the Sanford Dam – have been evacuated from homes within the flood zone. Temporary rehousing efforts are raising concerns about expanding the potential for exposure to covid-19; Michigan is one of the states which has been hardest hit by the virus, with more than 50,000 cases and more than 5, 000 deaths. The close quarters which are typically resultant from emergency shelters present opportunities for rapid transmission.
A bridge on Michigan’s M-30 highway has been destroyed by the flooding. Other bridges in the area are expected to be shut down until structural analyses can be performed to verify their safety.
Dow Chemical, which is headquartered in Midland, MI and has nearby production facilities, has announced that in the extensive flooding, chemicals from its containment pools have been mixed with the river waters. They have not yet provided estimates of the amount or type of chemicals released.
Although the flooding has been identified as “life threatening” by the National Weather Service, there have as yet been no reported fatalities.