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Flooding Forces Evacuations, Cuts Power in Towns Near Great Lakes

September 12, 1986|From Times Wire Services

Heavy rain drenched the Great Lakes region Thursday, unleashing floods that washed out Michigan and Wisconsin roads, cut power to thousands of families and forced residents to flee their homes.

More than a foot of rain fell in Western Michigan, sending eight feet of water gushing through Reed City streets and forcing authorities to evacuate residents by boat, the National Weather Service said.

One dam weakened by the rain gave way Thursday, forcing evacuations hours after the National Guard was activated to buttress dams threatened by the storms.

Hart Dam, five miles upriver from Pentwater, "just gave way," Oceana County sheriff's Sgt. Mike Fox said. He said residents still in the community were warned to leave.

More Dams Threatened

The flooding threatened several other dams, and at least seven counties and one city in Michigan declared emergencies.

Sparta measured 13.16 inches of rain, and 12.06 inches fell in Lakeview.

"It was coming in sheets. The rain was curb to curb," said Police Chief Leonard Sleutel in Sparta.

In Wisconsin, nearly eight inches of rain that have fallen since Tuesday flooded basements and roadways. Underpasses in Milwaukee were closed by six feet of water, the weather service said.

The storms also cut electricity to 27,000 homes in Michigan and 7,000 in Wisconsin overnight.

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