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Grand River swells in Robinson Township

Matt DeYoung • Jan 13, 2017 at 4:25 PM

ROBINSON TWP. — VanLopik Avenue looked more like an ice-covered river than a road Friday morning.

With the nearby Grand River rising several inches above its flood level, the water has spilled over the banks in several places in Robinson Township.

Many who live on VanLopik were unable to drive to their homes Friday, instead parking their vehicles on 118th Avenue and walking through yards to reach their residences.

John Levickas, who lives nearby on Limberlost Lane, said the water is steadily pushing up, but he has a few more feet of safety before it reaches his home.

“If it gets a little higher, yeah, I’ll be concerned — especially on Jan. 13,” he said. “Usually, it will come up this high maybe in February.”

Levickas is still able to get to his home, which sits just west of where 120th Avenue dead-ends into the river, despite the fact that the water has nearly risen to the edges of the road. He recalls a few years ago when the water rose so high that it reached the bottom of his newspaper box.

For now, he knows there’s not much he can do but hope for warmer weather, which could help melt the ice jams downriver that are causing the flooding in Robinson Township.

“We’ll just watch it come up,” he said. “That’s what you do when you live on the river.”

A hundred yards east of Levickas, River Haven Marina is surrounded on three sides by rising water. In fact, most of the marina’s docks are under water. Marina owner David Lenger isn’t overly concerned.

“I’ve been here 30 years, and this is par for the course,” he said.

Still, his collection of picnic tables, which sit next to a large storage building, are secured with rope as the water creeps up just a few feet away. Several large boats, shrink-wrapped and sitting on supports, are also very close to the water.

Lenger can look out the window of his office at the marina and see the gauge that the Ottawa County Emergency Services use to monitor the river’s level. On Friday, the top of the ice nearly touched the 14-foot mark, several inches above the flood stage of 13.3 feet. 

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Grand River at Robinson Township a couple of days ago. It is in effect until Thursday, Jan. 19.

The weather bureau says this present crest compares to a similar situation where the river reached 14.2 feet on Jan. 16, 2016.

A graph on the National Weather Service website shows that water levels from 13.3 to 15 feet result in “minor” flooding. “Moderate” flooding occurs between 15 and 18 feet, and anything over 18 feet is considered “major” flooding. The record high is 18.3, according to the site. 

More from the weather bureau: “Snow should be the main form of precipitation throughout the weekend and temperatures should be mostly below freezing. This should keep the ice on area rivers steady. Unfortunately, we have high river levels and additional minor flooding is possible. Ice in the rivers will also impact river levels, and could cause levels to rapidly fluctuate.”

The NWS noted that people should not attempt to drive around barricades or drive their vehicles through flooded areas. 

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