The headquarters of chemical giant Dow, which was spun off from DowDuPont last April, are threatened by flooding, prompting the company to activate its local emergency center in Michigan and implement "flood preparedness plan which includes the safe shutdown of operating units on site,” the company said on Facebook after two dams failed upstream of its Midland, Michigan, headquarters.
Dow said that "only essential Dow staff needed to monitor the situation and manage any issues as a result of the flooding remain on site." Other companies with operations at Dow’s Midland complex include DuPont and Corteva Agriscience, according to Bloomberg which adds that the companies are working together on their response.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who is already managing a public health crisis in one of the states that has been hard hit by Covid-19, announced an emergency declaration in response to the dam collapse. She told people to evacuate the area around Midland, urging those in the flooding zones to get to a shelter.
"In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under nine feet of water,” Whitmer said. “To go through this in the midst of a global pandemic is almost unthinkable."
The Edenville Dam, at the base of nearby Wixom Lake, failed amid high floodwaters in the area, sending water gushing through a now-gaping hole near its spillway. A second one, the Sanford Dam at the base of Sanford Lake, had also failed, according to the National Weather Service, which issued an alert advising of “extremely dangerous flash flooding” in the area.
The Tittabawassee River that flows below those lakes, through Midland, crested at nearly 34 feet in a 1986 flood that saw Dow Chemical shutter nearly all of its local operations. Floodwaters in Midland are expected to reach nearly 4 feet higher than that on Wednesday, the Midland Daily News said.