Michigan Floods as Heavy Rains Disrupt Spring Planting Season

May 22, 2020  | 3 min  | Ep4540

This week, heavy rains pumped the brakes on a robust spring planting run.  USDA reported 80 percent of the corn crop among the nation’s 18 top producing states had been sown before record floodwaters sliced through the Wolverine State, prompting Michigan’s Governor to declare a state of emergency following catastrophic dam failures. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer/D - Michigan: “Experts are describing this as a 500 year event. It's gonna have a major impact on this community and on our state for the time to come.”

Heavy runoff from 4 to 7 inches of widespread rainfall pushed rivers higher early in the week as over 10,000 central Michigan residents were ordered to leave their homes twice in less than 24 hours along area waterways.

Debra Dodd/Spokesperson, Consumers Energy: “We have a substation, at the mouth of Sanford Lake that leads into the mouth of the Tittabawassee River, and that is totally underwater.  Midland County has been one of our hardest hit areas, there's been significant flooding. I understand there's been about 50 streets that are actually closed to traffic as a result of the flooding.”

The president pledged his administration’s support for the state on a visit to a nearby Ford Motor plant reconfigured to produce ventilators for COVID-19 patients.

President Donald Trump: “Americans are praying for central Michigan. We're going to take care of your problem. The governor and I had a great conversation this morning.”

Headquartered in Midland, Michigan, Dow Chemical Company said there were no risks to people or the environment despite floodwaters mixing into containment ponds at a local Superfund site.  And while city officials report no deaths or injuries, the company, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, will be required to review and reassess the site after the deluge.

Raymond Gulvis/Arenac County, Michigan: “This is the worst flooding I have ever seen in this area. The worst.  Years ago, the wind used to come out the east and cover the farm with water.  We have since diked it, but this year the dike wasn’t tall enough.  It’s the price you pay for living in the low area along the river.  Do I like it? No.”

For Market to Market, I’m Josh Buettner.

Producer Contact: josh@iowapbs.org


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