Michigan governor declares State of Emergency in Wayne County due to impact of severe floods

Flooding at a park in Dearborn
Flooding at a park in Dearborn

Lansing, Mich. – On Saturday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an order declaring a state of emergency in Wayne County to help address threats to public health and safety related to heavy rainfall, which resulted in widespread flooding, power outages, flooded roadways, stranded motorists, flooding of homes, and displaced residents.

Further, the National Weather Service forecasts heavy rain and strong winds over the weekend across southern Michigan.

Additional counties may be added as needed and conditions change.

“We are continuing to work closely with emergency response coordinators and local leaders across the state to address widespread flooding,” said Whitmer. “The State Emergency Operations Center has been activated to coordinate our state’s response as we rush resources to affected areas, and the state of emergency declaration will help counties access even greater assistance. I want to thank everyone who has been working 24/7 to clear roadways, restore power and communications, provide emergency services, and make sure our neighbors have what they need to get through this storm. We’ve overcome tremendous challenges this year because Michiganders are a tough people who know that we are all in this together.”

By declaring a state of emergency, Whitmer has made available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery efforts in the designated area.

The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) to coordinate state efforts above and beyond what MSP/EMHSD has already been doing in conjunction with local agencies.

In a Tweet Whitmer said, “I’ve activated the Michigan State Emergency Operations Center in response to flooding across the state. As communities continue to experience extraordinary rainfall, this will help us better direct resources to meet local needs.”

The SEOC was activated as of 11 a.m., according to the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

Terms to Know

· Flash Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area move immediately to high ground. A flash flood is a sudden violent flood that can take from minutes to hours to develop. It is even possible to experience a flash flood in areas not immediately receiving rain.

· Flood Warning: Take Action! A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring.

· Flood Watch: Be Prepared: A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for flooding. It does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.

· Flood Advisory: Be Aware: A Flood Advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. A Flood Advisory is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. However, it may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised, it could lead to situations that may threaten life and/or property.

Preparing for a Flood

· Create an emergency preparedness kit with a 72-hour supply of water, including three gallons per person.

· Scan and store important documents on an online, cloud-based program.

· Put important documents and valuables in a water-proof container on the top floor of your home.

· Understand how to safely turn off electricity and gas lines in your home.

· Create an inventory of your household items and take photos of the interior and exterior of your home.

· Consider installing sewer backflow valves to prevent flood water from backing up into your home through drainpipes.

· Double-check sump pumps to ensure they are working properly. If possible, have a battery backup system.

· Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing.

· Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.

· Rise or flood-proof heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment by elevating equipment above areas prone to flooding. Another method is to leave equipment where it is and build a concrete or masonry block flood wall around it.

· Anchor fuel tanks. Unanchored fuel tanks can be easily moved by floodwaters.

During a Flood

· Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Disconnect all electrical equipment.

· Do not walk-through moving water. Six inches is enough water to knock you down.

· Do not drive in flooded areas. Six inches of water can cause you to lose control and two feet of water can sweep away your car. Remember: Turn around, don’t drown.

· Listen to local media reports for information about if the water supply is safe to drink.

· Avoid contacting flood waters because they can be contaminated by hazardous liquids and may contain sharp debris.

· Report and stay 25 feet away from downed power lines.

Driving in Flood Conditions

· Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will float many vehicles.

· Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickups trucks.

· Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.

· Do not drive around a barricade. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.

· Do not try to take short cuts—they may be blocked. Stick to designated routes.

· Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.