“We’ve never had an event like this,” Michigan's city manager Brad Kaye said in a Detroit News story. "What we're looking at is an event that is the equivalent of a 500-year flood." Kaye is referencing the catastrophic flood that occurred in central Michigan this week after heavy rainfall was compounded by two breached dams on the Tittabawassee River. Reports say the flooding forced evacuation of up to 10,000 residents, swallowed entire towns, and destroyed thousands of properties. No casualties have been reported, according to the Detroit Free Press, but car enthusiasts will be sad to learn a Pontiac Fiero shop and collection called Forever Fieros was decimated by the natural disaster.
The Tittabawassee River is located about two hours, or roughly 140 miles, north of Detroit. It starts 20-30 miles further north and flows southeast as a tributary to the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Along the way, the Tittabawassee is held up by several dams, including the Edenville dam that failed and the Sanford dam that was breached during torrential downpours. According to NPR, the federal government took away the Edenville dam's license in 2018 and suggested it could not last through a major flood. Unfortunately, that prediction was proven accurate.
Forever Fieros is located in Sanford, Michigan, which is just below Sanford Lake, which is created by the Sanford dam. So when the Edenville dam north of Sanford broke, water from Wixom Lake flooded Sanford Lake, and a berm next to the Sanford dam was overwhelmed, according to MLive. Technically the dam did not fail, but the end result was the same: an entire town underwater. The Tittabawassee reportedly crested at 35 feet, or 10 feet above flood level and 1.1 feet higher than the previous record set in 1986.
According to The Drive, the man in charge of Forever Fieros, Tim Evans, had time to attempt to save his vehicles from floodwater. He reportedly moved about 12 cars to a street that doesn't typically flood, but the water level was simply too high for that to matter. A floating pole barn also reportedly struck and damaged the Forever Fieros building.
Worsening the situation is the fact that Evans was planning to hold an auction to sell many of the Fieros. As seen on Industrial Bid, he planned to sell 12 Fieros, Fiero GTs and a Fiero Formula, ranging from 1984 through 1988. The lots included a 1984 pace car, a Lamborghini Countach kit car, and a Fiero Cosworth Pontiac Super Duty 16-valve DOHC engine. According to The Drive, Evans has since canceled the auction.
Among the victims of flooding in Michigan were a handful of Pontiac Fieros. https://t.co/eSuRdD4ebj pic.twitter.com/oH35J2VWRt
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) May 20, 2020