City of Lowell and residents prepare for "third highest elevation flood"

Feb 23, 2018

S. Jackson St., Lowell, Michigan
Credit Patrick Center / 546

The City of Lowell is preparing for what will go down as, what it calls the third highest elevation flood in the town’s history. The Grand River is expected to crest there at 18.6 feet sometime after 7 o’clock Friday evening. WGVU visited Lowell where residents and city officials are taking action.

City of Lowell workers have their orders barricading roads into southeast neighborhoods where the Grand River’s waters are rising to near historic levels. I ask how many barricades are being deployed?

“As of right now just a few of them because things just keep moving and it won’t be long and it’ll be down there, too. You’ve just got to keep going with the flow.”

Jackson Street north of the bridge is underwater and closed to traffic.

“This is our driveway completely filled with water now. The backyard is almost completely filled as well. The neighbor’s yard is pretty much a lake.” Nearby along Division Street the murky waters are closing in on Chloe Viening’s house.

Flooding along S. Division St., Lowell, Michigan
Credit Patrick Center / 546

“We looked out of the window this morning and it was barely touching our property line. And then when I came home from work around noon today it was already in the driveway. We’ve been watching updates on the city site and keeping track of how high it’s expected to get and how fast. So we’ve been preparing as we go along but, yes this is about where we’re pretty sure it’s going to come into the house.”

How do you prepare for this?

“We’ve called the electric company to find out when we need to shut down power. We’ve got hip waders and big tall boots now. I’ve ordered inflatable kayaks in case we have to leave the house to get to work. We’ve got dry goods so we don’t have to refrigerate anything." 

Viening lives in a two story home. What’s the game plan?

“There’s only one room that’s really in danger of getting water in it so we just moved everything out of that room.”

Viening’s family has moved upstairs. This is the drill families and City officials know all too well. Lowell is susceptible to flooding. This is where the Flat and Grand Rivers converge. There are approximately 4,000 residents. City Manager Michael Burns anticipates 40 homes will be directly impacted.

“We are working with Kent County Emergency Management, Red Cross and Salvation Army are working directly with them. We are utilizing Flat River Outreach Ministries on our behalf if that need arises. At this point in time we don’t anticipate it but we’re trying to be prepared if the need arises.”

There’s a pile of donated sand near city hall and, if residents choose, they can fill their own bags.

In Downtown Lowell, Patrick Center, WGVU News.