West Michigan Prepares For Another Flood Season

Posted at 8:01 PM, Mar 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-20 23:02:40-04

LOWELL, Mich. (March 20, 1014) — The National Weather Service tells FOX 17 that the Grand River in Lowell is about a foot above normal right now, which is still nothing significant. The river rose last year to a whopping 19 feet, four feet above the flood level.

City leaders said that if the same happens this year, they won’t be caught off guard.

Several blocks in Lowell’s southeastern neighborhood were submerged in water last April.

“We came together and sand bagged. We hit all of the areas we needed to hit. We kept South Hudson Street open. We were the only place for miles that had a north-south crossing over the Grand River,” said City Manager, Mark Howe.

Howe said that last year the city had its worst flooding in its recorded history. Flooding in 1904 and 1905 could have been worst, but records weren’t kept at that time.

Howe said that the city learned from last year about what it did well, and what it needs to improve. He said communicating with residents is key.

“We are making sure we have all of our contact information, all the phone numbers and emails and the things that we need. And make sure that we are, maybe we put some of our suppliers on notice. Let them know if things are projected to hit levels near last year or above,” said Howe.

According to the National Weather Service, weather conditions in March have caused the snow to melt steadily, with above freezing temperatures during the day and below freezing at night.

Howe hopes those conditions spare them from a repeat of last year.

“We’ve really been blessed with really a slow thaw and that’s been fortunate for us, but if we start to get a lot of rain, then water levels would rise rather quickly,” said Howe.

The NWS says it is now concerned about rain, and if wet weather were to spark up now it could be disastrous.

“If we were to get a rainfall event now while the rivers are still rising high, then that would increase the flood threat pretty substantially, so that’s what we are keeping track of right now,” said Mark Walton, Hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

Walton said that the NWS models aren’t showing substantial rain in the near forecast. As of now the earliest substantial rain is expected in the beginning of April, and they hope river levels will lower by then.