About 3,500 homes and 10,000 people have so far been affected by the evacuation notices in mid-Michigan ordered after two dams failed, Mark Bone, chair of the Midland County Board of Commissioners, said he believes.
No deaths or injuries have been reported, he said.
The evacuations come in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Teams are trying to screen people arriving at the shelters, Bone said, and emergency personnel have plenty of personal protective equipment and are wearing masks.
Masks are available for everyone going into the shelters, he said.
“To go through this in the midst of a global pandemic is almost unthinkable. But we are here, and to the best of our ability we are going to navigate this together,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said.
“Please, to the best of your ability, continue to wear a face covering when you go to a shelter or go stay with a friend or relative,” Whitmer added.
The Michigan Army National Guard is on site, with 100 soldiers doing inspections around the area, Whitmer said.
MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland said it was not evacuating.
“We have been working alongside local agencies, watching closely the rapid changes that have been occurring due to the flooding,” Greg Rogers, the president of the medical center, said in a news release. “We have transferred a few patients that were identified by their physician. We have no current plans to evacuate.”
The hospital said it has made improvements to protect the hospital since the flood of 1986, which include a FEMA-approved flood wall located on medical center property and generators built above the flood plain.