Gov. Whitmer calls flooding in mid-Michigan a 500-year event

Flood waters in mid-Michigan are still expected to rise until about 8 p.m. Wednesday, experts predicted, following “catastrophic dam failures” at the Edenville Dam, about 140 miles north of Detroit, and the Sanford Dam, about seven miles downriver.

About 10,000 people have evacuated since Tuesday night. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said at a news conference Wednesday that no injuries have been reported and that so far the evacuation has gone "as well as something like this can go." 

Many are taking shelter with nearby friends or family. Gov. Whitmer says those in need of a place to go can go to Midland High School, Bullock Creek High School or West Midland Family Center. A timeline wasn't given yet of when people might be able to return to their homes. 

Downtown Midland, a city of 42,000 about 8 miles downstream from the Sanford Dam, is facing an especially serious flooding threat. Dow Chemical Co.’s main plant sits on the city’s riverbank.

“In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately 9 feet of water,” the governor said. “We are anticipating a historic high water level.”

WATCH: Drone video shows scope of Midland County flooding

Flood warnings in Michigan were issued following widespread rainfall of 4 to 7 inches since Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Heavy runoff pushed rivers higher.

The Tittabawassee River has topped a 1986 record of 33.9 feet and is expected to crest at about 38 feet.

Dow Chemical has activated its emergency operations center and will be adjusting operations as a result of current flood stage conditions, spokeswoman Rachelle Schikorra said in an email.

Whitmer has declared a state of emergency for Midland County and says she'll be speaking with FEMA later Wednesday afternoon after surveying the damage. 

MORE COVERAGE: Feds revoked license for failed Edenville dam in 2018 amid concerns it couldn't withstand major flooding

Meanwhile, she's urging everyone who's evacuated to still practice COVID-19 safety precautions to the best of their abilities. 

"I think like everyone it was hard to believe we're in the midst of a 100-year crisis, a global pandemic and we're also dealing with a flooding event that looks to be the worse in 500 years," she said. 

The safety precautions to keep practicing are social distancing, wearing a mask and routinely washing your hands.