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Flooding forces evacuations in more Michigan communities

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. — More Central Michigan riverside residents evacuated their homes Friday after being overwhelmed by flooding from two failed dams that submerged communities farther upstream earlier this week, authorities said.

About a dozen people who live near the Tittabawassee River in Spaulding Township have evacuated, but some in the community refused to leave their homes despite warnings, Fire Chief Tom Fortier said Friday morning.

Fields and roads were under several feet of water, resembling wide, shallow lakes. Water stood 2 to 3 feet deep in some houses where the owners decided to stick out the flooding, Fortier said.

The Tittabawassee became engorged late Tuesday when the aging Edenville and Sanford dams failed after heavy rain. The river crested Wednesday in Midland — about 20 miles upstream from Spaulding Township — leaving the small city and surrounding areas under several feet of water and forcing about 11,000 people to evacuate.

With the slow recession of water in the Midland area, the focus has shifted to assessment, cleanup, and rebuilding.

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Glenn Hart’s home in Hope Township, about 16 miles north of Midland, escaped the brunt of the flooding. But on Friday, the 66-year-old was removing debris from his property, including kayaks, boats and pieces of docks.

“I’m trying to find who this belongs to, to make sure people get their stuff,” he said.

He will be without natural gas for at least two weeks, but Hart has an electric water heater in a barn that escaped damage.

President Trump signed an emergency declaration Thursday authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts.

Dow Chemical Co. is headquartered in Midland, and it has a plant next to the river. When the river crested, the floodwaters mixed with containment ponds, and the company said the flooding could displace sediment from a Superfund site. The US Environmental Protection Agency said state officials would evaluate the plant.

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On Friday, Dow and its foundation announced a $1 million donation for flood recovery efforts.

ASSOCIATED PRESS