Bayou water rises, localized flooding expected

Krystle Wagner • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:09 PM

Although residents along the water’s edge said they aren’t concerned, the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Grand River at Robinson Township through 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

The warning was issued because an ice jam had formed on the Grand River near the U.S. 31 drawbridge in Grand Haven. Large chunks of ice from upstream continue to move down the river and pack into the jam forming in Grand Haven.

As of Tuesday morning, the river at Robinson Township was at 13.65 feet, which is two feet higher than it was Sunday afternoon.

The flood stage is 13.3 feet, and that's when minor flooding occurs.

The river at Robinson Township is forecast to reach a maximum stage of 14.3 feet by tonight, according to the weather bureau. This crest compares to a previous crest of 14.6 feet on May 2, 2009.

Officials say the Grand Haven ice jam is expanding and working its way upstream to Robinson Township.

Ottawa County Emergency Services Manager Beth Thomas said they have been monitoring the river closely for the past few days.

“It’s wise for residents to monitor it themselves,” she said.

Thomas said she hadn’t been to the Pottawatomie Bayou area and couldn’t verify what was causing the rising frigid waters there, but she encouraged residents to keep an eye on the situation.

As Tom Lodeski shoveled his driveway on Monday, the water next to his Grand Haven Township home was rising. Within the past two or three days, he said the Pottawattomie Bayou increased about 3.5 feet.

The retired man said he watches the area every day from his home's picture window overlooking the bayou.

“It’s not unique," he said.

One month ago, the 15 feet between the bayou seawall and his dock was mud, Lodeski said. On Monday, it was filed with ice.

The rising waters don't concern Lodeski because they would have to rise about 70 more feet before reaching his home.

“If my belief is correct, this blockage would have to last for a long time, and we would have to get a lot of rain and snow quickly melting,” he said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Janis Laurens said the rising water could be from a combination of rapid snowmelt, frozen ground and above-average snowfall.

Laurens said they didn’t have information for Grand Haven, but the Muskegon area received a total of 5.48 inches of liquid precipitation in January. The normal liquid precipitation for January is 2.03 inches.

Lakeshore residents shouldn’t put their snow brushes and shovels away just yet.

“There’s more snow on the way,” Laurens said.

Grand Haven may see 3-5 inches today. Laurens said snow showers would pick back up on Thursday with the possibility of several more inches.

If the water levels continue to rise, Grand Haven Township resident Ron Skruch said he has plans in place to protect his home along Pottawattomie Bayou. He said they had to use sand bags in the past when the bayou's water reached to within about a foot of his home.

“It happens,” he said. “It’s not that big of a deal here.”

Although the area may have seen above-average precipitation last month, it wasn’t enough to make up for the historically low water levels.

“It’s got a long way to go,” Skruch said.

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