Heavy rain leads to
the end of a long winter, local people were worried about the rivers.
far, Mother Natures been kind to us, said
Mark Walton of the National Weather Service less than a month ago. He was speaking to a
community meeting at Newaygo High School, talking about the Muskegon River.
said that the only concern would be back-to-back rainfall or slow and heavy rain
downpour of heavy rain combined with strong winds and occasional accompanying hail hit the
area. The saturated watershed could not contain the water and for the third time in four
years area the river went where it wanted to, inflicting damage throughout its path.
County Emergency Services worked to keep residents informed and safe throughout the
impact of this is of such a magnitude, said Emergency Services Director Abby
Watkins. These people are getting hit for the third time in just four years. The
damages are significant.
patterns are changing, she added. Were getting heavy rainfalls in very
short periods of time and need to look to see if we can do something to mitigate the
office in White Cloud held the command center where organizations from throughout the
region collaborated to coordinate resources. The meeting room buzzed with activity, phones
constantly ringing with calls for help.
husband Mark Watkins serves in the same position in Osceola County, where the Muskegon
River is also doing its share of damage there.
really havent seen much of each other this week, Abby Watkins said with a
praised the reaction and cooperation of the landowners and residents during the difficult
time. The relationships built over the past few years in reaction to the frequent flooding
are a large part of this collaborative effort.
know them and they know were here for them, she said. Well provide
around the clock resources to help them out.
Red Cross set up shop at Resonate Church, providing shelter for anyone who might be in
need. Most residents found family or friends to stay with and others decided to just stay
on and wait out the river.
tanks were uprooted, vehicles were under water and boats once setting on blocks in the
yard suddenly broke free and traveled wherever the river wanted to take them. A pontoon
boat was lodged under the lower bridge in Newaygo
level decks became docks, the Riverfront Park in Newaygo disappeared underwater and people
gathered near flooded areas to take photos, share stories and recall previous high water
times, including the dam threatening Flood of 1986.
the waters beginning to recede, the bigger challenge is yet to come.
want to make sure we have an organized process in place to guide homeowners through the
process of getting back into their homes as quickly as possible, once it is safe to do so,
many of the homes were substantially impacted by the flood waters, there are safety
concerns that need to be addressed to protect homeowners from electrocution, structural
failure, gas leaks, and other hazards caused by the flood water.