High water levels and higher-than-average rainfall continues to be the cause of problems for residents and businesses in the Grand Haven area this fall.
Spring Lake Township resident Carl Hordyk said that his new sump pump has operated 24/7 since he purchased it in early June. Across the street from Hordyk’s home, overflow from the Grand River and Lloyd’s Bayou flooded a marshy area he used to mow.
Hordyk moved a large hose to another area of a waterlogged portion of his backyard as he talked. A steady stream of water flowed from the hose, pumped from the new pit he dug for the sump pump.
The Leonard Street resident said he did some rough calculations earlier in the summer and figured he was pumping about 750 gallons per hour to keep the water from coming through the floor.
“We’ve never had water or a sump pump before,” said Hordyk’s wife, Dianna.
She explained that the previous owners had the house lifted three cement blocks high in the 1980s, the last time the water levels were so high.
“They put in pea gravel and poured a new floor,” Dianna said. “I can’t imagine if they hadn’t.”
Their neighbors were also pumping water to keep their basements dry.
“We’ve all had to install new pumps,” Carl said. “Some houses have two or three pumps running.”
The situation is so critical that when a tree branch fell on a nearby power line and power was cut to the area, Carl went straight to his brother’s house to borrow a generator to keep the sump pump running.
“Guess I’ll have to buy one of those now, too,” he said of the generator.
While the Leonard Street neighbors have been keeping the water at bay, others in the area have not been so lucky.
“We had several calls this morning (Wednesday) from people near Spring Lake Middle School,” said Mandy Sosnoski, a manager for Flagship Restoration of Ferrysburg. “People have a lot of groundwater coming into basements and lower levels. When we have heavy rains that are consistent and water tables are rising, we anticipate a lot of these calls.”
Sosnoski said there has been an influx of calls this fall, and this year has been one of the company’s busiest in its 11-year history.
In Grand Haven, city crews continue to battle flooding on Harbor Island. On Thursday morning, Department of Public Works crews again pumped the area of Coho Drive where motorists turn onto the access road for the boat launch. They also drove through the water that again covers the entire launch.
“The (water in the) marina parking lot is higher than we’ve seen all summer, probably from the rain and higher river levels,” Public Works Director Derek Gajdos said. “It’s not closed, but we’re getting pretty close to it being not usable.”
Gajdos said the Harbor Island boat launch would be closed for the season when it starts icing over.
Across U.S. 31, Hall’s Sports Center, whose parking lot has been under water much of the summer, closed for the season last week. The manager, Shawn Grow, said the Grand Haven branch of the boat sales company did less than half of the business than it did the previous year.
“It was horrible,” Grow said. “We were closed from the end of April to the third week of July.”
Water covered the parking lot and access road, but it got better after the city installed large sandbags and raised the road. Public works crews continue to pump water from that area, too.
Grow said the owners of his company plan to have a new seawall constructed and do other renovations to the area in the near future.
Gajdos said he met with state highway transportation officials on Thursday and with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers a couple of weeks ago. He said the city would reconstruct the berms in both of the areas.
Gajdos said they are starting to see flooding on roads, such as the one off Third Street that goes to Linear Park, as a result of the heavy rains. But he anticipates that to go back down as winter approaches.
The public works director said that mitigation work continues in the Chinook Pier buildings that had water in the crawl space and some mold. Repair work will be done this winter.
At a meeting with the Corps of Engineers a couple of weeks ago, officials announced that Lake Michigan’s level was expected to be higher in January 2020 than it was this past January.
“That’s not good,” Gajdos said. “If we have similar rain patterns as this year, then records will be broken.”
More problems would result from a lot of Lake Michigan becoming frozen this winter.
“We’re counting on evaporation levels to bring the water levels down,” Gajdos said. “Lake Michigan freezing over will not help us.”