Swollen Grand Creates Major Spectacle

Posted at 3:31 PM, Apr 21, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-21 15:38:56-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – It basically only happens once in a lifetime! Call it the 100 year flood, but record levels along the Grand River in Kent County are quite evident. Not only by taking a drive along the river banks, but by watching all the people trying to get a glance.

Museums in downtown Grand Rapids had free admission on Sunday, and while the lines may have been long, the real action and history (no pun intended) was eclipsed by the show the Grand is putting on. As of Sunday afternoon, the crest (the highest point on the water) is expected to approach Comstock Park this evening. According to the National Weather Service the crest won’t arrive in Grand Rapids until around or shortly after midnight at about 22.3 feet. Flood stage is 18 feet. That’s RECORD FLOODING!

I, too, took the drive along the river from Belmont, through Comstock Park, and in to downtown Grand Rapids. It’s amazing to see the amount of water that has escaped its banks. It looks remarkably well through most of GR thanks to the strong integrity of a concrete seawall along most of the river. That said, there are still some locations where the mighty Grand has spilled out of its banks on to the lawn at the Ford Presidential Museum, approaching part of the GVSU Campus, and already flooding the basements of the JW Marriot and the Amway Grand.

All of Riverside Park along Monroe is underwater. The other thing I noticed was the Campau Building in downtown GR. Their basement is reportedly flooded, and water is already half way up the windows of the first floor. Thus far, the integrity of the windows have held with only minor/minimal seepage as their first floor remains dry and in tact. I could see the water on the outside of the window (literally knocking on it) just waiting to blast inward if it’s hit by some sort of log or projectile moving through the flow. See the attached photo!

There’s almost a festive atmosphere in downtown Grand Rapids. Not happy, but one of awe and amazement at the screaming Grand going from its normal flow of about 6,000 cubic feet per second, to now 33,000 cfs…more than five times the normal/average flow. Most of us will not get the chance to see or experience this type of high water in our lifetime. So it is historical…it’s record-setting…and just a quick glimpse of mother nature’s power allows West Michigan residents to some how be a part of it.

If you have any photos to share please email them to We’ll be using them throughout the day both on-air and online. Click here to get the latest river levels, stages, and crests from the NWS. Get the complete West Michigan forecast at