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12-year-old dies in U.P. flooding

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
Flood waters damaged Agate Street in Houghton.

A 12-year-old boy has died in the aftermath of massive storms that washed out roads, caused sinkholes and flooded homes in the Upper Peninsula. 

Thatcher Markham died Monday, a day after a massive mudslide tore through his family's home and left him trapped in the basement, the Houghton County Sheriff's Office said. 

His father was able to dig him out of the basement and perform CPR, police confirmed. But the boy died at around 11:40 p.m. Monday. 

A Go Fund Me account has been set up for the family. So far, more than $63,000 has been raised, far outpacing the $15,000 goal. 

The storms struck early Sunday dumping as much as six inches of rain and causing flash floods in some areas. Gov. Rick Snyder Monday declared disasters in Houghton and Menominee counties.

That declaration allows him to deploy the National Guard in those areas to help with road repairs.

Read moreStorms wash out roads in Upper Peninsula

Dale George, a spokesman for the Michigan Emergency Operations Center, said officials are still working to assess the damage caused by the storms.

"We have people up there doing damage assessment and we're waiting for information to come back," he said. "There's no real risk of danger at this point. Everyone is just waiting for the water to drain off."

Based in Lansing, the center coordinates the response and recovery efforts by state agencies and local government. It is overseen by the Michigan State Police's Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

George said a Michigan State Police helicopter has flew over Houghton County Monday to asses damage and was going to survey Menominee County Tuesday. He said the state was also using some unmanned aerial systems to assess damage in the impacted areas.

Fortunately, it doesn't look like any more rain is predicted to fall anytime soon.

The forecast for the next few days calls for quiet and dry weather, according to the National Weather Service's office in Marquette. Temperatures are expected to be in the high 70s through Friday.

Multiple rounds of heavy rain moved over the Upper Peninsula's western portions over the weekend and Houghton County was the hardest-hit area, according to the weather service.

It estimates three to nearly seven inches of rain fell on the county,causing extensive damage to the city of Houghton and surrounding areas. Houghton is about 550 miles northwest of Detroit.

On Monday, officials said public health and safety is a concern due to damaged structures, debris, contaminated flood water, road and bridge closures, and loss of electric power and utility services.

Read more: Death, washed-out roads amid flooding in Upper Midwest

The governor's office said Monday the flooding in Houghton and Menominee counties has impacted hundreds of homes, businesses and public facilities and infrastructure.

Houghton County has a population of about 36,555, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city of Houghton has a population of nearly 8,000, according to the Census.

Menominee County, which is located on the Michigan-Wisconsin border and about 472 miles northwest of Detroit, has a population of about 23,000, according to the Census.

On Monday, the Houghton County Office of Emergency Measures said U.S. Route 41, a highway that runs from the Upper Peninsula to Miami was open in the area, but traffic narrowed down to one lane near Britz Road and at the Pilgrim River. However, county officials said at least 20 other roads were still closed.

"Not all of the roads are open," George said. "There's still a lot of water there."


Twitter: @CharlesERamirez

Associated Press contributed.