2017 flooding approaching 100-year flood levels of 2013

Feb 22, 2018

National Weather Service Grand River gauge
Credit Patrick Center / 546

The National Weather Service says portions of downtown Grand Rapids, Comstock Park and North Park are under the gun as flood waters continue to rise across West Michigan.

It was five years ago when the region experienced what was defined as a 100 year flood. WGVU headed down to the Grand River where forecasters expect this week’s flooding to be nearly as severe as it was in 2013.

Rivers and streams across West Michigan are rising. The snowmelt and three to four inches of rain over a 48 hour period triggered flood warnings across the WGVU listening area.

“I would expect flooding to be almost as bad as what we had in 2013.”

That was the year of the 100-year flood. National Weather Service meteorologist Heather Orow explains what to expect.

“In April of 2013 the river crested at 21.85 feet and right now we’re forecasting a crest by Saturday of 21.1 feet. So, we’re getting pretty close.”

Some low-lying areas around downtown Grand Rapids will be impacted but not like five years ago. That’s because the city has fortified its assets.

“Since 2013, and working alongside FEMA, the City has made $11 million in flood wall improvements around its waste water treatment plant, and the downtown stretch on both sides of the Grand River.”

That’s Grand Rapids City Engineer Mark De Clercq.

“So we’re now protected to the hundred year baseline elevation which is about 25.5 in river stage at the gauge, which is right by the Blue Bridge, that is where the National Weather Service has it’s gauge.”

And I’m standing next to that gauge along the Grand River where the muddy waters flow beneath the Blue Bridge just to my north. To my south is the Fulton Street Bridge where there’s about six feet separating the swift waters and the bridge deck.

The City of Grand Rapids along with Kent County Emergency Management are monitoring water levels and say if condition warrant the flood plan and its protective measures will be implemented. Think sand bags and the potential for evacuation.

In downtown Grand Rapids, Patrick Center WGVU News,