Michigan legislators, FEMA assess devastation in Midland County after massive flooding

Michigan senators say the tragic event could have been prevented

U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) and U.S. Representative John Moolenaar (MI-04) today joined with FEMA Regional Administrator James K. Joseph in surveying damage caused by the historic flooding and dam failure earlier this week in Midland County. The group participated in an aerial survey of the damage, assessed damage in Sanford, met with local officials to discuss next steps and thanked first responders, volunteers and the Michigan State Police in helping the community overcome this catastrophe.

MIDLAND, Mich. – Michigan senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters toured the flooded region in Midland County on Saturday with U.S. Representative John Moolenaar and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Together the group assessed the damage from the historic flooding that occurred earlier this week. The Edenville Dam was breached Tuesday evening and eventually broke, triggering a flooding emergency that evacuated nearly 11,000 mid-Michigan residents.

READ: ‘Catastrophic’ flooding, evacuations in mid-Michigan as dams fail: What to know

From an aerial view the group surveyed the devastation to the region and its structures -- especially in the village of Sanford, which was hit the hardest by the floods.

During their visit, the group called for a full investigation into the conditions of Michigan’s Edenville and Sanford dams that broke, and encouraged more federal regulation of dams in general.

The owners of the Edenville and Sanford dams have been cited by federal regulators for safety issues since 2004.

“This is something that could have been prevented,” Peters said. “We had dams that were clearly weakened; folks knew that they could give in a very severe storm.”

The Local 4 Defenders discovered that federal officials revoked the hydro power generating license for the Edenville dam in 2018.

READ: Investigating who is responsible for Edenville Dam failure that led to devastating floods

There are currently two class action lawsuits against the dam owners for their role in the region’s disastrous flooding.

“The destruction caused by these dam failures and catastrophic flooding was devastating to see -- and it is only worsened by the fact that we are in the middle of a pandemic,” Peters said. “But one thing was also clear: this community is tough, it is resilient and we will get through this together."

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer extended the state of emergency for Midland County to include three additional counties to ensure access to critical resources amid the flooding crisis.


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