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Blackhawk dam comes close to complete failure

Posted at 12:13 PM, Aug 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-19 12:13:46-04

COLDWATER TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- The Blackhawk Dam  in south of Coldwater in Branch County was in a stage of failure Sunday morning. Branch County Emergency Management made the announcement to alert residents living downstream along the Coldwater River.

"Very serious situation yes. Had somebody not called it could have potentially breached the bank and let the mill pond go.” Says the Branch County Drain Commissioner, Mike Hard.

"The Blackhawk Dam is in a stage of failure," said a statement from Tim Miner of Branch County Emergency Managment. "The Branch County Drain Commissioner’s Office is working to mitigate the issues. Materials and equipment are being brought in to repair the dam. There is potential for significant flooding in the Coldwater River area extending into the Pilot Knob area. The amount of flooding will be dependent on control mechanisms that are being applied. Residence in this area should prepare for potential flooding problems. The City of Coldwater and Branch County Emergency Management are monitoring the situation."

A crisis was avoided thanks to a phone call from a neighbor and some quick repair work by contractors.

Randy Hall, who lives next to the Blackhawk Dam, was getting ready to go out of town and says his wife was walking the dog and saw water swirling in a hole on the side of the dam.

"They were probably within an hour of losing that dam. So by them acting on it so quick and getting equipment out here so fast they saved the dam," said Hall.

Thanks to Hall's quick thinking and the quick response by crews and the drain commission, a complete failure of the dam was avoided.

“At this point I think we’re safe," Branch County drain commissioner Mike Hard told FOX 17. "We’re at a point where the water is not going under or around the dam anymore. That wasn’t the case earlier today.”

Hard says work will continue Monday to strengthen up the dam so there will be no more issues. The cause of the near breach remains under investigation.