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Michigan rivers flood, debris clogs waters

AP Wire • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:28 PM

The Saginaw River was 4.1 feet above flood stage Tuesday at Saginaw on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

In West Michigan, the Grand River was 2.6 feet above flood stage Tuesday at Comstock Park near Grand Rapids and not expected to retreat into its banks until the weekend, the weather service said. It said the Grand River was 1.1 feet above flood stage farther downstream at Ottawa County's Robinson Township.

Read the latest flood warning for the Grand River by clicking HERE.

With more rain in the forecast, Grand Rapids-area authorities have been warning those living along the Grand River to be ready to evacuate, Kent County Emergency Manager Jack Stewart said.

A hundred miles farther east at Bay City, a massive pile of debris was clogging part of the Saginaw River. The collection of tree limbs, brush, marsh vegetation and garbage was seen this week near the Bay City Marina.

Some other waterfront areas in Michigan were also dealing with similar reports of debris.

"We have a huge mess out front," said Justin Scott, an employee at Pier 7 Marina, located along the Saginaw River. "When this stuff moves down the river, it will be a water hazard to all the boaters."

The U.S. Coast Guard said it's common for debris such as trees, brush and garbage to wash up in the spring. It is up to individual marinas and communities to clean up the mess or wait for it to be carried downriver, it said.

"Ice moves a lot of debris on the banks," said Petty Officer Thomas Couture. "When it thaws, the water rises and it runs onto the river."

Those heading out to fish should use caution, Couture said.

"It can be a hazard, but boaters realize when there is a lot of debris they need to take it slower and watch where they're going," Couture said.

Storms moving across the Midwest last week, coupled with melting snow, brought flooding to parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

George Lauinger, park manager at the Bay City State Recreation Area, said last week's rain has exacerbated what he described as a chronic debris problem for this time of year. He said it's mostly dead vegetation.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources crews have been working at the Pine River Dock in Arenac County and other docks in the area using tractors and dump trucks to clear debris so boaters can use them.

Debris buildup at the Pine River launch was so severe that boats couldn't launch until the mess was cleared.

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