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Thousands Forced to Evacuate in Michigan After 500-Year Flood Destroys Two Dams

05-21-2020
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Don Thomas of Saginaw pulls his boat up to his son Jason Thomas who went back to his house near W. Signet in Midland to retrieve his family's cats. Flooding along the Tittabawassee River in Mich. on May 20, 2020. (Daniel Mears/ The Detroit News via AP)
Don Thomas of Saginaw pulls his boat up to his son Jason Thomas who went back to his house near W. Signet in Midland to retrieve his family's cats. Flooding along the Tittabawassee River in Mich. on May 20, 2020. (Daniel Mears/ The Detroit News via AP)

Thousands of people in Michigan have been forced to evacuate amid the pandemic after a 500-year flood destroyed two dams.

The devastating flooding peaked early Thursday morning and in the three days since it began has engulfed entire communities. 

"Most of the buildings down here are damaged beyond repair or gone," Art Straight, a lifelong resident of the Midland area, said. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says this is unlike anything her state has ever seen. "It's going to have a major impact on the community and the state for a time to come," she said. 


Don Thomas of Saginaw pulls his boat up to his son Jason Thomas who went back to his house near W. Signet in Midland to retrieve his family's cats. Flooding along the Tittabawassee River in Mich. on May 20, 2020. (Daniel Mears/ The Detroit News via AP)

Devastating images show water reaching rooftops, cars and roads swallowed up by the deluge, and boats smashing into bridges before being swept under. 

President Trump was already scheduled to visit Michigan Thursday and stop at a Ford plant that's making ventilators. 

"We've sent them everything they've needed and we'll continue," said Trump Wednesday. "We've sent the FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers out and they're very good at dams." 

Meanwhile, local officials say they knew this could happen. 

"This was a known problem for a while," Whitmer said of the dams. 

Federal regulators revoked Edenville Dam's hydropower license because of overflow concerns found in 1999. 

And the Army Corps of Engineers reported the Sanford Dam had "High Hazard" potential during a 2018 inspection. 

The Federal government is now ordering an investigation. 
 

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