Flooding hits parts of Midwest, with evacuations in Michigan
EDENVILLE, Mich. — People living along two mid-Michigan lakes and parts of a river were evacuated Tuesday following several days of heavy rain that produced flooding and put pressure on dams in the area.
Two Midland-area schools were opened for evacuees, and more than 50 roads have been closed. The evacuations in Michigan followed days of heavy rains in parts of the Midwest that also brought flooding to Chicago and other parts of Illinois, as well as Ohio and other states.
“The water is very high,” said Catherine Sias, who lives about a mile from one of the dams located in Edenville, Michigan. “Last night, emergency responders came door-to-door to make sure everybody got out. We have mild flooding every year, but this is unusual.”
Sias, 45, has five cats and two dogs and was about to check into a hotel that allowed pets when she learned it was probably safe for people not living in low-lying areas to return home.
“I'm on the high bank, about 20 feet up,” she said. “A lot of people are having a harder time. Most of them are going to be dealing with flooding in their homes.”
Some residents, like Jon St. Croix, went to shelters set up in area schools.
“We were laying in bed when I heard sirens,” St. Croix told the Midland Daily News. “A fire truck was driving around, broadcasting that (we needed) to evacuate. It’s a scary thing — you’re sleeping and awake to sirens.”
St. Croix, 62, his wife and a next-door neighbor were among more than a dozen people sheltering in one school. Their home was not flooded, but St. Croix said he had seen flooding in the area.
Volunteers at the schools said about 120 vehicles were in the parking lots of a couple of schools and about 30 people had been staying on cots inside, according to WNEM-TV.
About a dozen people hunkered down overnight at a school in Sanford but had left by early Tuesday afternoon, said Tom Restgate, an American Red Cross safety officer.
The cots inside the school were spread out to observe social distancing recommendations to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Restgate said.
Heavy rains also caused flooding in parts of northwestern Indiana, including Crown Point — the Lake County seat — where about seven inches fell over the weekend.
Floodwaters swelled quickly on Sunday when 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) of rain fell within 15 minutes, swamping streets and sending water into basements and homes, including Mayor David Uran's residence.
Those waters receded Monday, but Uran and many other residents were continuing to clean up the watery mess on Tuesday, said Uran's chief of staff, Greg Falkowski.
“He got between 2 and 3 feet in his basement, so that’s what he’s working on right now,” Falkowski said Tuesday afternoon.
In Chicago, water that flooded some areas downtown was receding on Tuesday, but Larry Langford, a fire department spokesman, said that he did not expect power to be restored at the iconic Willis Tower for days because the rains caused the building’s subbasements to fill with as much as 25 feet (7.6 meters) of water. The building was closed to tenants and visitors.
And in DuPage County, west of the city, a search for an 18-year-old woman who was swept away by a surging DuPage River last Friday remained suspended on Tuesday because the water remained too high and the current too swift to conduct the search safely.