Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Midland County, noting that the area "could be under 9 feet of water"

By Georgia Slater
May 20, 2020
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Credit: Kaytie Boomer/The Bay City Times via AP

Nearly 10,000 people in central Michigan are under evacuation orders due to life-threatening flooding after two dams failed on Tuesday following days of heavy rainfall.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for areas close to the Tittabawassee River after the Edenville Dam and the Sanford Dam, about 140 miles north of Detroit, experienced "catastrophic failures," according to CBS News.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Midland County Tuesday night, urging the city of about 42,000 people to evacuate while still maintaining social distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"If you have a family member or loved one who lives in another part of the state, go there now," she said in a press conference via CNN. "If you don't, go to one of the shelters that have opened across the county."

Credit: Kaytie Boomer/MLive.com/The Bay City Times via AP

"In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately 9 feet of water," Whitmer continued. "We are anticipating a historic high water level."

According to the New York Times, this was the second time in 24 hours that residents were urged to evacuate. The National Weather Service first ordered evacuations after four to seven inches of rain flooded the area on Sunday and Monday.

On Wednesday morning, the Tittabawassee River surged past its record Midland mark of 33.39 feet and is continuing to rise. It is projected to crest around 38 feet by 8 p.m. EST, CNN reported.

Whitmer is asking that those seeking out shelter continue to observe coronavirus precautions to "the best of your ability," including wearing masks and remaining six feet apart.

"To go through this in the midst of a global pandemic is almost unthinkable,” she said. "But we are here, and to the best of our ability we are going to navigate this together."

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