Flood threat persists on swollen rivers

Floodwaters from swollen rivers threatened nearby homes and closed sections of roads Tuesday in western and northern Michigan, while crews made progress toward restoring power to thousands of homes that lost electricity during a series of storms.
AP Wire
Apr 16, 2014

The Muskegon River reached a record 15.45 feet at Evart in Osceola County, exceeding a previous high of 15 feet set in March 1989, the National Weather Service reported. The river exceeded its major flood stage there and near the Croton Dam about 35 miles north of Grand Rapids.

It was 3.3 feet over its banks at Evart and was expected to rise several more inches before cresting Tuesday night and leveling off Wednesday morning, said Jared Maples, a forecaster with the weather service in Grand Rapids. The situation will remain tenuous for at least another few days before the river recedes below moderate flood stage.

"You'll get smaller tributaries and creeks still feeding into larger rivers, so you'll see those rises and peaks in the next day or so," Maples said.

A flash flood warning was posted after an earthen dam gave way on Wolf Creek near the Muskegon River's headwaters in Roscommon County, forcing closure of sections of a two-lane highway called Old 27.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources bought the dam about four years ago from a hunting club, which used it to form a small, marshy lake, said Rex Ainslie, a supervisor in the wildlife division. The dam has a low-hazard rating because it's in an unoccupied forest area, he said.

Newaygo County's emergency services director urged some downstream residents to evacuate as the Muskegon flooded the community of Grant. Flooding also was reported along the Pere Marquette, Chippewa, Tittabawassee and White rivers.

Farther north, the Boardman River near Traverse City breached its banks in some areas and a creek covered part of a street and some yards.

"We've been here 20 years. Some of our neighbors have been out here 40 years, and we've never seen this kind of thing happen. Never," Tom Gardner told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. His house was partly surrounded by water.

Washouts or flooding also caused road closures in the Ludington, Cheboygan and Alpena areas.

In the Upper Peninsula, forecasters advised people to watch for rising water on the Escanaba River and other streams where ice jams posed a danger and moderate to heavy snow remained in the forecast.

Icy roads caused some problems, including when an armored carrier company's van carrying up to $1 million crashed on an icy Flint-area roadway and spilled part of its load onto a road shoulder and a parking lot.

Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. said about 11,000 of its 150,000 customers in southeastern Michigan that lost power were still offline Tuesday afternoon. Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp. said about 2,700 of its more than 149,000 affected Consumers Energy customers were without service, but nearly all were expected to be restored by midnight.

The spring storm also shattered seasonal snowfall records in Detroit and Flint.

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