Kent County: Beware of Toxic Sandbags

Posted at 4:10 PM, Apr 26, 2013

 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The following update was sent by the Kent County Health Department regarding the recent flooding.

Emergency Management Division

Flood Update

Kent County

– The Kent County Department of Equalization deployed teams today for damage assessment from the flooding that occurred over the past two weeks. Personnel from cities, townships and villages that were affected by flooding, as well as volunteers, started logging damage assessments around Kent County. It could be several weeks before a final estimate of the damage is determined. The extension of the local State of Emergency gives personnel time to accurately complete these assessments. The local State of Emergency declaration, signed April 19, remains in effect for all Kent County villages, townships and cities, through May 24, 2013. This process is necessary to determine if Governor Rick Snyder will issue a Declaration of Disaster; a step towards requesting FEMA funding or assistance.

Many people used sandbags to stop the floodwater from getting into their homes. Any sandbags that came into contact with floodwaters should be considered contaminated.


DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE TRASH WITH REGULAR HOUSEHOLD GARBAGE. Some waste haulers may have protocol for disposal; check with your specific disposal company for details. Be sure you document and save any expenses related to the flooding, including disposal fees for sand bags and other household items that required disposal.

The first testing of the Grand River was collected by the Kent County Health Department on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Three locations were selected by sanitarians:

Lowell (near the junction with the Flat River) 111.74 parts per milliliter

Plainfield Township (near the junction with the Rogue River) 50.58 parts per milliliter

Walker (near Johnson Park) 29.46 parts per milliliter

“The good news is that these E. coli scores are much lower than we anticipated, but they are just the first samples taken in these locations,” said Jack Stewart, Emergency Management Coordinator for Kent County. “We need at least three days of test results before we can determine the health of the water. Even once the water samples return with what the DEQ considers an acceptable level E. coli (under 300 parts per milliliter), the advisory will likely stay in effect due to debris, swift current and safety concerns.” The


No-Contact Advisory remains in effect for the Grand River. DO NOT come into contact with the water until the advisory is lifted.


No updates are scheduled this weekend unless conditions warrant a news release.

Updates and information on the flooding can be found at If you require additional information (or an on-camera interview) please contact Lt. Jack Stewart, Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator, at 616.632.6255, Undersheriff Jon Hess at 616.632.6236, or PIO Lisa LaPlante at 616.632.7182.

1. If you were evacuated from your home, DO NOT RETURN until authorities say it is safe to return. Local officials are working to determine when it is safe for residents to return to their homes, and with Consumers Energy to restore power when safe. If your power is out and/or your gas shut down, do not attempt to turn these on yourself. Do not light matches in a house or business until it is deemed safe. More information at:

2. The no-contact advisory for the Grand River throughout ALL of Kent County will remain in effect until further notice. Concerns include a fast-moving current, debris, and contamination. Our first responders have had to save several people who ventured into the water (via kayak or raft) and ended up in trouble.


Stay out of the water – period.

3. Many residents may be using generators for power or kerosene heaters. Use these items carefully:

Read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions before running any equipment;

DO NOT use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space, or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up;

Generators should be located in a dry area outdoors, away from open windows, vents, or doors;

Keep a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector near the area where you are running a generator;

Do not use heaters or generator near combustible materials.

4. If you have well water and the well head was submerged at any time, your water may be contaminated. It should not be used for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, dish washing, or bathing. Water testing sample bottles are available from the Kent County Health Department and their four satellite clinics, as well as most township offices throughout Kent County. Until testing results are complete, use bottled water, DO NOT use your well water. People drinking or washing with water from a private well that has been flooded will risk getting sick. If you are uncertain about the integrity of your well, call a registered well driller or licensed plumber. (The Kent County Health Department recommends testing well water annually, regardless of weather conditions.)

5. Clean and disinfect businesses and homes where the flooding occurred within 24-48 hours of returning. Wear gloves when handling anything that may have been in flood water or sewage. These areas could have organisms that cause illness to humans and pets. Be careful to avoid sharp metal while cleaning, as cuts can lead to tetanus concerns. More information can be found here:

6. Throw away any food that came in contact with floodwater or sewage, or, if in a freezer or refrigerator, throw out food with an unusual color, odor, or if the temperature is above 45° F internally.

7. Hazardous waste, such as gasoline, insect repellant, antifreeze or motor oil, can be taken to these drop-off sites:

Transfer station at North Kent Landfill

2908 10 Mile Rd NE Rockford, MI 49341

The Kent County Road Commission

1500 Scribner NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

The Wyoming Waste Water Treatment Plant

2350 Ivanrest Ave SW Grandville, MI 49418

Kentwood Public Works

5068 Breton Rd SE Kentwood, MI 49508

More information, including hours for Saturday drop-off, can be found at:

The American Red Cross continues to operate two shelter locations in Kent County: the Alpine Baptist Church in Comstock Park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those needing overnight shelter should call 211. The American Red Cross also can provide residents with clean-up kits, which include a mop, gloves, broom, bucket, scrub brush and cleaning chemicals. For more information, contact the American Red Cross at 616.456.8661.

April 26, 2013 ROADS CLOSED

***This list is subject to change as conditions change throughout the day***


Tisdel from 20 Mile Rd and 21 Mile Rd (impassable)

Mowry from Lehman to Tisdel (impassable)

Ashley from 7 Mile Rd to M-44


Canright & Briggs

4 Mile & Briggs

Forest Ridge & Coit

West River Dr & Abrigador Trail

West River Center & Abrigador Trail

West River Dr & St Lawrence

West River Dr & Karcher Dr

Jupiter & Konkle

West River & Indian

Indian & River Point

Walnut Park & Northland Dr

Willow Dr & Bailey Park

Willow Dr & Canright

Shady Dr & Knapp St

Reeds Lake Blvd from Duchess to Manhattan

Reeds Lake Bvd from East Beltline to Hall

Michigan from Twin Lakes to Crahen


Vergennes between Parnell & Boynton



th from Wingeier to Pratt Lake



th from Pratt Lake to Montcalm



th St from Whitneyville to McCords



th St from Morse Lake to Moe St

4 Mile Rd from McCabe to Boynton

Pratt Lake from 68


th St to 64th St



th St from Pratt Lake to Montcalm

Causeway Dr

Southwest Complex



nd St from Ivanrest to Byron Center