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‘When it rains, I cringe’

Alexander Sinn • Oct 22, 2018 at 10:00 AM

During heavy rain in September, residents near the corner of Adams and Sixth streets in Grand Haven suffered flooded properties.

Adam Hass bought his home on Adams Street in 2015. He says he has spent more than $15,000 to fix damages. He had the property raised beyond the floodplain, which required him to remove a garage to complete the project.

While Hass is no longer in the floodplain and has resolved the flooding on his property, many of his neighbors are inundated when rain water leaves the streets and heads for their homes. One of his neighbors recently moved to avoid dealing with the problem any longer, Hass said. 

“When it rains, I cringe,” he said.

The Grand Haven City Council last week discussed potential solutions to help as many as 11 homes that are impacted during rain events.

Councilman Josh Brugger shared a video he recorded walking on Adams Street toward the corner of Sixth. It shows flooded yards and his shoes fully submerged in the street.

Council members agreed Oct. 15 that doing nothing for the residents wasn’t an option.

The city intends to research solutions to reduce the flooding impact on neighborhoods built within the floodplain during its goal-setting session later this year, according to City Manager Pat McGinnis.

Homes in the Adams Street area deal with flooding when storm sewers become overcharged following significant rain events, McGinnis noted.

There may be cost-effective measures to reduce the impact, McGinnis said. Among the options would be a lift station that would collect water in the neighborhood and pump it out directly.

Hass said flooding issues increased since the Grand Landing development was built.

The flooding is not caused by a high groundwater table, Hass said. Rather, water is unable to flow from the Adams Street neighborhood because portions of Grand Landing are blocking its natural path toward the Grand River.

“I’m not worried about the water under the surface,” Hass said. “I’m worried about when it rains our yard fills with 24 inches of water, and that’s too much, and it’s coming from the street.”

The city hired Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr and Huber (FTCH) to conduct a study in 2014 to explore the issue, which concluded, “It cannot be determined if factors other than natural variation in the rainfall and water levels in the Grand River/Lake Michigan contribute to the observed groundwater levels.”

Based on the data, the report said, “It may be possible to better define the factors controlling groundwater levels to determine alternatives to reduce groundwater impact on residential homes in the area.” 

Hass has pressed city officials in recent years to take action, and he is happy that the city is taking a look at the issue.

“This is a historical neighborhood,” he said. “It needs a little respect. Although all this new stuff is great and wonderful, we’ve got to protect what is there already.”

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