Traverse City Record-Eagle

Michigan

April 19, 2013

Heavy rains worsen flooding

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — Lower Michigan’s already overflowing rivers were getting more water as a wave of severe thunderstorms pushed through the state Thursday, forcing some people to evacuate and knocking out power to about 77,000 homes and businesses.

In the Grand Rapids suburb of Wyoming, Mayor Jack Poll declared a state of emergency Thursday and officials issued an evacuation order for some areas. The city called in available police, firefighters and public works employees and is making sand bags and sand available.

Workers were using inflatable boats to rescue some people living along the Buck Creek, a Grand River tributary.

In Grand Rapids, five children were carried from a stalled vehicle through a flooded West Michigan street.

Melissa Kolenda said she was taking photos Thursday when she noticed the vehicle had stopped running and wouldn’t restart. She said the driver was deathly afraid of water.

“I said, ‘If I come out there, you’re going to need to come out with me,’” Kolenda told MLive.com. A police officer and firefighter helped Kolenda carry the children to dryer ground. They also helped two women to safety. The water was waist-high and there was a strong current, and the car eventually became completely submerged, Kolanda said.

The Grand River is expected to crest Monday about 6 feet over flood stage, or when the river first tops its banks, in the Grand Rapids area on Monday. The water was 3.1 feet above flood stage Thursday at Comstock Park and 2.2 feet above in Ottawa County’s Robinson Township, according to the National Weather Service.

The Saginaw River was 2.8 feet above flood stage Thursday and expected to crest 5.8 feet over the weekend, while the Pine River was 2.1 feet over flood stage at Alma.

Water levels could keep rising as up to 4 inches of rain fall on parts of the state through Friday, the weather service said.

About 70,000 DTE Energy Co. customers were without power at 6 p.m. Thursday, said company spokeswoman Randi Berris. Most were in Oakland and Washtenaw counties. About 7,000 CMS Energy Corp. customers lost power, and about 2,500 were still blacked out about 6 p.m., said spokesman Terry DeDoes.

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