More than two months after the floodwaters submerged a mid-Michigan town, an independent investigation into the cause is finally underway.

MIDLAND, MI — Midland faced a disastrous flood when the Edenville dam failed in May prompting the forced evacuation of over 10,000 Michiganders at the height of the early coronavirus pandemic. The resulting floodwater caused $200 million in damages to more than 2,500 homes in Midland, Gladwin and Saginaw counties.

“I can’t even tell you the horror of looking at the inside of our home,” Cathy Allen told Bridge. “Things that were in our basement were now upstairs in our living room.”

More than two months later, an independent investigation is finally being launched. 

READ MORE: 2 Lawsuits Have Been Filed In Mid-Michigan. They Say The Flooding Was Preventable.

Announced Monday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will contract an outside investigation team to explore the failures of two mid-Michigan dams and evaluate two remaining nearby dams, MLive reports. Though Michigan’s  Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) supports the action, the investigation will remain independent of both agencies. 

According to EGLE, the team conducting the investigation includes: John France, PE (team chair, Geotechnical and Emergency Action Planning); Irfan Alvi, PE (Human Factors and Structural); Jennifer Williams, PE (Geotechnical); Steve Higinbotham, PE (Hydraulic Structures); and Arthur Miller, PhD, PE (Hydraulics and Hydrology, Reservoir Operations).

“The independent team can now aggressively begin the work that was originally ordered a month ago to find answers that the residents of Mid-Michigan deserve and are not getting from the owner of the dams,” said Nick Assendelft, spokesman for EGLE, to MLive. “Sadly, Boyce Hydro has once again been uncooperative with state and federal authorities, which has delayed a timely accounting of what happened and why,”

RELATED: Why Midland’s History Won’t Be Lost To Floodwaters

Such an investigation has been sought by lawmakers for some time, with Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Warren) calling for an inquiry as early as the start of June. So did Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who ordered EGLE to look into the dam failure in early June as well.

“I’m committed to doing everything I can to hold those responsible for the dams’ safety accountable,” she told reporters in Midland after the flood. “I also asked EGLE to review the issue of dam safety in Michigan and provide recommendations on policy, legislative and enforcement reforms that can prevent these harms from being repeated elsewhere.”

A contributing factor to the dam failures might have been federal negligence, a new lawsuit argues. Allen v. FERC argues that the dam owner, the now-bankrupt Boyce Hydro, should never have been given a license to operate the Edenville and downstream Sanford dams, which both failed in May without the FERC first ensuring that Boyce could pay for the upkeep of dams it bought in 2006 as a tax shelter. The lawsuit also alleges that FERC failed to monitor the integrity of the Edenville dam, contributing to it’s ultimate failure. 

As a result, military veterans Cathy and Dan Allen argue the FERC is ultimately responsible for $1.25 million in damages caused by the dam failures. 

FERC chairman Neil Chatterjee admitted the agency did not conduct a financial evaluation of Boyce Hydro because buying the Edenville dam out of foreclosure meant the sale was exempted from such an evaluation.

SEE ALSO: Gov. Whitmer Volunteers in Midland to Help Families Devastated by Flood

This comes as President Donald Trump has attempted to roll back other environmental regulations during the coronavirus pandemic, including supporting the push for a new oil pipeline project under the straits of Mackinac which has raised similar infrastructural concerns

What extent Boyce Hydro’s inability to maintain the dam led to its collapse, and by extension to what extent FERC’s exempting the company from financial evaluation, will likely be determined by the independent investigators. The state is also sending investigators to other spans of dam in the area to assess their stability. 

“With Boyce in bankruptcy and unresponsive to both the court’s order and our inquiries, we are going forward with the needed engineering assessment,” Teresa Seidel, director of the Water Resources Division of EGLE told The ‘Gander in a statement. “Residents and local officials will see an increase in activity and personnel on the site, and we want them to be aware of what’s happening and why.”

Boyce did not respond to requests for comment.