If your community is one of the thousands nationwide where dam failure could have serious, if not devastating, consequences, you may find one of FEMA’s upcoming webinars of particular interest. The webinar, titled “Background on the 2020 Edenville and Sanford Dam Failures,” will take place on July 19, 2022, from 1 – 2:30 PM ET. Its purpose is to review a newly released report that examines the incident response before, during, and after these two dam failures in Michigan.  

As you may recall, the catastrophic failure of these two dams prompted the evacuation of approximately 11,000 residents in May 2020 and resulted in roughly $245 million in estimated losses.  

According to FEMA, the review of this event provides key insights and lessons for other jurisdictions with dams, including:  

  • Examining risk and coordinated planning on a watershed scale is important, especially as excessive precipitation becomes more prevalent, to ensure awareness of systemic risk, both upstream and downstream.  
  • Planning and exercising, with participation from emergency management and dam owners/operators, provide a valuable opportunity to test plans, confirm roles and responsibilities, and identify areas for improvement.  
  • Inundation modeling