Dealing With Flood Waters
The transformation of a tranquil river into a destructive flood occurs
hundreds of times each year throughout the United States. No area is
completely free from the threat of floods. This is certainly true for
Midland County. On average, each year over 300,000 Americans are driven
from their homes by floods; 200 people are killed; and about $2 billion
worth of property is damaged or destroyed.
Midland County, with its network of rivers and streams, is vulnerable
to flooding. The Tittabawassee River is the primary river in Midland
County with the Chippewa, Pine and Salt rivers its major tributaries.
Other creeks and streams such as the Snake and Sturgeon also are branches
of the Tittabawassee.
Midland typically experiences flooding of low-lying areas in the
spring when the ground is saturated with moisture and rainfall runs off
into the river system without being absorbed. A similar situation
sometimes occurs in late autumn. Also, an unusually large amount of
precipitation in a short amount of time, as occurred in September 1986,
will cause flooding of the Tittabawassee River and its tributaries.
A watch is maintained on the county's river system by the Department
of Emergency Services and local volunteers called "Cooperative Observers."
River assessment information is provided to the National Weather
Service River Forecast Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The River
Forecast Center then produces flood forecasts based on rainfall and river
level data received from Midland County. The National Weather Service
Forecast Office at White Lake issues flood watches and flood warnings with
guidance provided by the River Forecast Center.
A FLOOD WATCH means that conditions within the watch area may
lead to flooding and residents should be on the alert for that
A FLOOD WARNING is issued as an advance notice that a flood
is imminent or is in progress at a specific location or river basin.
Early flood warnings provide time for people in threatened areas to
prepare and, by preparing, lessen damage from the flood. Residents in
low-lying areas have time to move personal property, mobile equipment
and livestock to higher ground. Sometimes crops can be harvested in
advance of a destructive flood. Emergency services organizations can
also begin preparations for response and recovery operations.
URBAN FLOODING is another phenomenon that can occur in areas
where natural cover has been removed by the construction of buildings,
roads and parking lots. Heavy rain can result in flash flooding,
inundating cars and causing considerable damage to residential and
industrial properties. Streets can become swollen with water and
basements can experience flooding. This occurred in Midland in the form
of a flash flood on June 21, 1996, when approximately 4 inches of rain
was received in a short period of time. As a result, nearly 1,400 homes
were damaged by rainwater and/or sewage that had nowhere else to go.
The National Weather Service distributes flood warning information on
NOAA Weather Radio. In the Midland area, NOAA Weather Radio can be
received on frequency 162.525 MHz.
NOAA Weather Radio provides continuous broadcasts of the latest
weather information directly from the National Weather Service Office in
White Lake. Taped weather messages are repeated every four to six minutes.
The National Weather Service also distributes information to commercial
radio and television stations.
For local residents on the Charter Communications System, specific
flooding information is broadcast on Midland Government Television (MGTV)
channel 96. When the Tittabawassee River comes within four feet of its
flood stage in Midland, MGTV will broadcast an hourly update of the river
Any street closings due to high water levels are broadcast on MGTV.
Flood information also may be obtained by calling 1-888-TELL-MORE,
which is continually updated throughout the event.
Specific emergency instructions and informational updates also are
provided to local radio, television and newspapers by the Department of
Flood Safety Rules
Before The Flood
Keep materials on hand such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting
Keep first aid supplies on hand.
Keep a stock of food that requires little or no cooking and no
refrigeration; electric power may be interrupted.
Keep a portable radio, emergency cooking equipment, lights and
flashlights in working order.
Know if you are located in the flood plain or not.
Avoid areas subject to flooding.
Do not attempt to cross flowing water.
Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road - you can be stranded or
trapped. The depth of water is not always obvious.
After The Flood
Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters.
Boil drinking water before using.
Do not visit disaster areas; your presence may endanger you or
hamper emergency response efforts.
Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet areas; electrical
equipment should be checked and dried before being returned to service.
Stay tuned to local radio and television for specific information
concerning such things as shelter, food, clothing and other types of