LANSING, Mich. – It’s been months since a wall of water burst through two dams, submerged mid-Michigan communities underwater, and created one of the year’s worst environmental disasters.

As a result, Michigan’s dam safety task force has taken a long hard look at its dam infrastructure and come up with a list of 86 recommendations that would improve the state’s failing barriers.

They’re not going to be cheap recommendations to make, however. And many will require the rewriting of laws that regulate ownership and maintenance in Michigan.

The Edenville dam failure

What prompted such an extensive review of the state’s aging infrastructure what the flood event of the year in May 2020. While extreme weather is happening with increasing frequency, the flood that swamped a mid-Michigan county and drained a 2,000-acre lake in an hour was listed as a 500-year flood.

An estimated 50,600 cubic feet of water discharged from Wixom Lake into the Tittabawassee River May 20 after a surge of rainfall from the previous weekend overloaded the Edenville Dam in Midland County. After the first dam ruptured on a Tuesday afternoon, a wall of water burst through the Sanford Dam.

By then, residents of Midland, a city of 40,000 people, had been told to evacuate or risk injury or death as the municipality was threatened with nine feet of water. By morning, a foot of water was standing next to the town hall. The roof over the Midland Area Farmers Market was just over the floodwaters.

All of this as Michigan was coming down from its first surge of COVID-19 cases that had decimated the state’s economy. Residents already struggling with a public health crisis not seen in a century were suddenly thrown into shelters with little social distancing.

Cots were put in high schools and community centers to accommodate the residents, now refugees inside their own state.

This article appeared in Fox2Detroit, for more, click here.