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Michigan residents clean up after flooding

AP Wire • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:32 PM

In Saginaw County's James Township, about 80 miles northwest of Detroit, Mary Ann Parker said the water came within about seven feet of her back porch. Her basement was flooded, however, and her son pumped water out.

"I had the restoration people here because I want my basement cleaned up," she said, noting a damp smell.

Jason Gempel, 41, lives down the road from Parker. He estimated on Thursday that he had about 5 feet of water remaining in his basement, and expected to work into the weekend pumping it out.

"The tip of that trailer was under water, this barn had ... about 4 inches of water in it, the house has still got water in it," Gempel said while standing in his yard, wearing tall rubber boots.

He said he lost lawn care equipment, antiques and electronics in the flooding.

A flood warning remains in effect for the Saginaw River, which the National Weather Service says could remain above flood stage through today.

Saginaw's Wastewater Treatment Plant discharged about 1.5 billion gallons of treated wastewater into the Saginaw River.

In Grand Rapids, owners of the 32-story Plaza Towers residential building that was evacuated nearly a week ago are working to pump water from the facility.

Eenhoorn LLC is working with city officials, contractors and engineers on plans to return about 1,000 residents to their homes at the building.

Water is being pumped from a parking garage beneath the hotel, apartment and condominium complex, which was evacuated April 20. Officials need to drain the basement and reactivate the electrical, plumbing and fire suppression systems.

They plan to work through the weekend.

The Grand River at Grand Rapids dropped back beneath flood stage Thursday. In all, officials said about 1,700 people were evacuated in Kent County, including the Plaza Towers. At least 150 have returned home, Kent County officials said.

Kent County officials said the first tests of Grand River water were conducted Thursday at three locations and levels of the bacteria E. coli were lower than anticipated. Emergency Management Coordinator Jack Stewart said more tests are needed and officials still advise no contact with the water.

The Grand Rapids wastewater treatment plant told state regulators that 429 million gallons of partially treated sewage were released to the river from detention basins during the floods — the equivalent of filling 8.5 million 50-gallon bathtubs.

"It's not the worst environmental threat that we had over the past week," said Dan Schoonmaker, spokesman for the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

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