Tittabawassee River expected to crest at 38 feet, 6 feet over previous record

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated in central Michigan and the river is expected to crest at almost 40 feet, more than 6 feet higher than the previous record set more than 30 years ago.

Rapidly rising water has overtaken dams and forced the evacuation of about 10,000 people in Midland County after at least two, and possibly a third, dams failed. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said among the threatened areas is downtown Midland, which by Wednesday could be "under approximately 9 feet of water." 

"We are anticipating a historic high water level," Whitmer said late Thursday night. "If you are in one of these areas right now, please, evacuate."

On Wednesday morning, water that was several feet high covered downtown streets near the Tittabawassee River, reaching a hotel and parking lots. 

The river has already topped a previous record reading of 33.9 feet set during flooding in 1986, and it's expected to crest at about 38 feet. It's already at 36.5 feet.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for locations along the Tittabawassee River after the breach at the Edenville Dam and the Sanford Dam.

The damn failures happened along the Tittabawassee River and followed days of heavy rainfall across the region. One failure happened at the Edenville Dam, about 140 miles north of Detroit, and the other at the Sanford Damn, about seven miles further downriver.

Several first responders have been activated to help provide assistance to feeling families. That includes the National Guard,125 Infantry, and the Red Cross. The 51st Civil Support Team has also been requested to support Dow Chemical. Michigan State Police have also authorized air, land, and marine vehicles to help.

Several records indicate that the Edenville Dam, which is owned by Boyce Hydro Power LLC, had been cited several times for failing to issue repairs to the dam. Records show the largest concern to regulators was the dam didn't have enough spillway capacity to ensure the dam would not fail if water levels increased and flood potential grew. 

After several violations and years of cited problems with the infrastructure, the company agreed to sell the dam in January.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.