Residents bail out basements, homes, yards

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:29 PM

But officials were planning to keep a close eye on the Grand River, which is forecasted to rise to a near-record flood level by Sunday in Robinson Township.

Thomas said the water began receding in some areas since the rain stopped.

Large puddles in saturated yards were starting to shrink on Friday, but the situation didn’t seem much better to some Crockery Township residents.

Crockery Township firefighters worked late into the night Thursday to remove floodwater from three homes on Cleveland Street, east of 136th Avenue. One of the homeowners, Kelly Sullins, said the floodwaters were back by Friday afternoon.

Sullins' neighbor, Lyn Sanchez, called for help when she and Bob Johnson couldn’t keep up with the water rising in the lower level of their house.

Sullins and Sanchez both said they were afraid to run their dishwashers or take showers because of their flooded yards. They have septic systems and were worried about the possibility of sewage backing up into their homes.

“I have a pile of towels next to the toilet,” Sullins said.

Crockery Township Fire Chief Gary Dreyer said his crews responded to eight flood calls on Thursday.

Just around the corner on 136th Avenue, firefighters assisted a family with a gas leak that was blamed on water in the basement. Dreyer said water can extinguish a pilot light or short out an igniter, and then gas fumes build up, leading to a possible explosion.

“That’s one reason why we do assist with flooding basements,” the fire chief said.

Crockery Township firefighters also responded to flooding calls on State Road and 112th Avenue, and delivered sandbags to a home on Fitzgerald Street.

Firefighters pumped water from the crawl space beneath Malaine Zager’s home and into Kelly Sullins' yard. They then pumped the water into Bob Johnson’s yard and pushed it into a ditch across 136th Avenue, where they were able to dig open some culverts, Sullins said.

Sullins said her family dug a trench to move the water away from her home. She watched the activity until the rain started falling again later in the evening.

“I started crying, then went to bed,” she said.

Early Friday afternoon, the water was still in Sullins' yard and up against sandbags propped against the garage.

Dreyer said a lot of the areas where they assisted haven’t had flooding problems in 15 years.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime event,” he said.

Spring Lake Township firefighters were called to a house fire on Country Lane, north of Kelly Street, at about 9:45 p.m. Thursday. The fire started when floodwaters shorted out a furnace in the home's basement.

Spring Lake Fire Marshal Brian Sipe said the fire was out when they arrived, but so was the furnace.

“We turned off the gas, shut down the power and ventilated smoke out of the home,” he said.

Sipe said firefighters would not remove water from property, but would respond to hazardous situations.

Sipe recommends residents obtain sandbags as soon as possible so they could be prepared for possible higher water levels this weekend. Spring Lake Township residents can call the Department of Public Works non-emergency line at 842-0080 for sandbags and sand.

Grand Haven Township Fire Chief Tom Gerencer said his department had not responded to any flood situations this week, but they were busy handing out sandbags — 2,000 of them as of Friday afternoon. Most of those bags were going to people on the north side of Pottawattomie Bayou, he said.

The county has set up a shelter in Hudsonville for any county residents displaced by flooding. A limited number of kits for cleaning up basements are also available at that shelter.

For an up-to-date list of Ottawa County roads closed because of the flooding, CLICK HERE.

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