Michigan Dams Break, Leading to Widespread Evacuations

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Homeowners insurance rates are sure to be rising as fast as the floodwaters in parts of Michigan. The state, which has been wracked by the COVID-19 pandemic, is now facing heavy rains and flash floods. After two dams in Midland County broke, Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for the county. An evacuation order shortly followed.

Michigan Dams Break
Wall Street Journal

The evacuation order comes even during the ongoing lockdown in the area to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus. “If you have a family member or loved one who lives in another part of the state, go there now,” Whitmer said in a press release. “If you don’t, go to one of the shelters that have opened across the county.” Residents were urged to seek shelter at higher ground, far to either the east or west of the Tittabawassee River.

Flooding at ‘Historic’ Levels

In the press release, Whitmer warned that the coming flood would be very dangerous. “In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately nine feet of water,” Whitmer told reporters. “We are anticipating an historic high-water level.”

Michigan has been at the center of numerous headlines in recent weeks. Whitmer herself has been the target of protester ire. Many protesters calling for a reopening of Michigan have focused on the governor as the obstacle keeping them from resuming normal life.

So far, there have been no reports of deaths of injuries due to the flooding. Officials in the region have projected that between 4,000 and 10,000 homes may have already been impacted by the floods. The unprecedented rainfall and dam breaks have hit the state during another emergency: the COVID-19 pandemic. This has caused complications for the flood response.

Flood Occurs During Pandemic

As people from Midland County rushed to get to flood shelters, officials urged them to continue maintaining six feet from other people. However, it is very difficult to observe social distancing in a flood shelter. Emergency personnel have been outfitted with masks and other PPE and are working to keep screening those seeking shelter.

According to officials, emergency personnel have enough masks to fashion individuals seeking shelter, too. “To go through this in the midst of a global pandemic is almost unthinkable. But we are here, and to the best of our ability we are going to navigate this together,” Whitmer continued in the press conference. “So please, to the best of your ability, continue to wear a face covering when you go to a shelter or go stay with a friend or relative.”