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Governor Whitmer Requests Major Disaster Declaration for Mid-Michigan Counties Impacted by Flooding

June 15, 2020
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Governor Whitmer Requests Major Disaster Declaration for Mid-Michigan Counties Impacted by Flooding

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer today sent a letter to President Trump requesting a major disaster declaration in response to the catastrophic flooding and dam failures last month in Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland and Saginaw counties.

“Last month’s flooding and dam failures upended the lives of thousands of Michigan families and business owners at a time when we were just beginning to reopen our economy following weeks of working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Whitmer said. “This natural disaster, coupled with a global health pandemic, has created enormous stress and emotional trauma for these residents, and they need the federal government’s help to begin rebuilding their lives.”

Last month, Governor Whitmer declared a State of Emergency for the counties affected by the dam failures and requested and received a federal Emergency Declaration for Midland and Gladwin counties, which unlocked limited federal assistance. On May 27, 2020, the governor directed the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) launch an investigation into what caused the Edenville and Sanford dams to fail.

The flooding has resulted in more than $190 million in losses for residents and over $55 million in immediate response costs and damages to public buildings and infrastructure.

“This 500-year disaster has impacted everyone from homeowners and renters to businesses and farmers throughout mid-Michigan, and I urge the federal government to provide the resources necessary to ensure they don’t suffer financial hardships for years as they attempt to repair and restore their damaged homes and businesses,” Governor Whitmer said. “We will get through this together and will emerge stronger on the other side.”

The flooding was caused by an area of low pressure stalled across the Great Lakes region, bringing a prolonged period of rainfall to Michigan from May 17 to May 19. Persistent steady rain resulted in excessive two-day rainfall totals reaching record levels at some locations.

The record flood levels along the Tittabawassee River were greatly exacerbated due to extra water from two catastrophic dam failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams. High water levels of the Edenville Dam Impoundment likely contributed to failure of the earthen embankment at the east side of the dam. The sudden release of water through the breach in the dam then flowed downstream into Sanford Lake. The resulting rapid rise in Sanford Lake caused the earthen embankments of the Sanford Dam to be breached.

To view the governor’s letter, click the link below: