Officials prepare for potential of spring flooding

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:08 PM

In a three-hour strategic session Monday, Township Fire Chief Brian Sipe led local leaders through preparations for possible spring flooding and other potential disasters.

“Obviously, we want to be prepared,” Sipe said. “It gets us more prepared so, if something should happen in the weeks to come, our minds are going that way. It’s important to go through an emergency plan exercise.”

Sipe presented members of both municipalities’ administrative, Department of Public Works, public safety and finance staff with checklists to follow in case of an emergency.

“Hopefully, we can start thinking proactively if something should happen,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity to work our operations plan.”

Although the National Weather Service predicts minimal flooding in this area and a low likelihood of ice jams this spring, Sipe said it’s important to know what to do in the event of flooding or other disasters. He suggested each municipality have a key leader and alternates in case the point-person is away on vacation or otherwise unavailable.

The group decided the Emergency Operations Center on the first floor of Spring Lake Village Hall would be the designated gathering place for municipal leaders in the event of a disaster. Barber School would serve as the “information center” where residents and members of the media could go for updates.

Sipe stressed coordination with county and other regional resources.

During the coming days and weeks, Sipe said local leaders will keep a close eye on low-lying areas, including Leonard and Boom roads.

The National Weather Service on Thursday issued a flood watch for Ottawa and Kent counties through Friday morning as large chunks of ice have been spotted upstream of Comstock Park in the Grand Rapids area. They said the ice could quickly form jams as it makes it way downstream toward Grand Haven over the next day or two.

Visit grandhaventribune.com for the latest information on the situation and weather bureau advisories.

Beth Thomas, director of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Management, said ice jams bring added dangers to potential flood areas.

See Thursday's print or e-edition of the Tribune for the full story.

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