The Associated Press
EDENVILLE, Mich. -- People living along two mid-Michigan lakes and parts of a river were evacuated Tuesday after several days of heavy rain that produced flooding and put pressure on dams in the area.
Two Midland-area schools were opened for evacuees, and more than 50 roads have been closed. The evacuations in Michigan came after days of heavy rains in parts of the Midwest that also brought flooding to Chicago and other parts of Illinois, as well as Ohio and other states.
"The water is very high," said Catherine Sias, who lives about a mile from one of the dams located in Edenville. "Last night, emergency responders came door-to-door to make sure everybody got out. We have mild flooding every year, but this is unusual."
Volunteers at the schools said about 120 vehicles were in the parking lots and about 30 people had been staying on cots inside, according to WNEM-TV.
About a dozen people hunkered down overnight at a school in Sanford but had left by early Tuesday afternoon, said Tom Restgate, an American Red Cross safety officer.
The cots inside the school were spread out to observe social distancing recommendations to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Restgate said.
Midland County 911 sent out a series of alerts saying the Edenville and Sanford dams were at risk of failing, and those living near Sanford Lake, Wixom Lake and other area waterways should evacuate.
Midland County Emergency Management later said that the dams were "structurally sound." It said water flowing through the dam spillgates couldn't be controlled, however, so evacuation measures remained in place.
In 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission revoked the license of the company that operated the Edenville Dam over non-compliance issues that included spillway capacity and the inability to pass the most severe flood reasonably possible in the area.
The Edenville Dam was rated in unsatisfactory condition in 2018 by the state, while the Sanford Dam received a fair condition rating.
Both dams are in the process of being sold.
A Section on 05/20/2020