Ice jams concern Ottawa County officials, residents

Posted at 7:12 PM, Jan 14, 2016

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. -- Residents in one Robinson Township neighborhood are closely watching the Grand River, along with Ottawa County Emergency Management. Ice jams and flooding are the concerns.

"They say we're crazy," resident Bernadette Kearns said of living in the flood zone.

"But I tell ya. When you get up in the morning, and you go and look out over the river and you see the swans and eagles... ya know, it's good enough for me," Kearns chuckled.

So she takes whatever winter dishes out, and that includes the threat of flooding in her neighborhood where she's owned a property for a few years. Van Lopik Avenue intersects with 118th Avenue at a dead end.

"The year I moved in, in '13 we had that huge flood, and I had to evacuate in a kayak from my place because the water was up almost 5 feet," Kearns recalled.

This winter, she's hoping history doesn't repeat itself. FOX 17 spotted an Ottawa County deputy who stopped by the neighborhood to warn residents of a possible ice jam in Grand Haven that could cause problems. As of now, the only sign of flooding is the road leading to Kearns' home. Van Lopik Avenue is causing people to park a distance away, on higher ground.

"Over the last couple days, we've noticed that the water levels have risen quite significantly," Captain Bob Tease of Ottawa County Emergency Management said.

Tease said the flood stage is 13.3 feet, and it was above 3 inches for most of the day (Thursday). He said the county and the National Weather Service are keeping a close eye on it for the residents.

Kearns said, "Let's just put it this way. If [the water] comes up onto 118th, we're all out of here."

Tease said the river is expected to crest around 14 feet on Saturday, but that level is just an estimate.