Worst flood in 30 years puts Isabella, Midland Counties under water

June 29, 2017

This truck crashed into a wash-out on Rosebush Road  just west of Loomis..photo by Rachel Veltkamp

This truck crashed into a wash-out on Rosebush Road just west of Loomis.. photo by Rachel Veltkamp

By Pat Maurer

Just one week ago today, mid-Michigan experienced the biggest floods since 1986. Severe thunderstorms with intermittent heavy rain continued from just before midnight Thursday to late Friday morning.

Isabella and Midland County were the hardest hit by the heavy overnight storms prompting Lt. Governor Brian Calley to declare a state of disaster in both counties because of the widespread damage and flooding, but Isabella County officials had already declared a local state of emergency earlier on June 23.

A June 27 update on 9 & 10 News reported that Gladwin County also declared a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon to help with recovery efforts in dealing with damages caused by the storm.

Governor Rick Snyder, who flew over both Isabella and Midland Counties Friday to inspect the damage, has said he is working with FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) to get federal aid, although he said on 9 & 10 News that it could take a long time to get federal relief for the two counties.

A press release Monday said Congressman John Moolenaar spoke with Acting Regional FEMA Administrator Janet M. Odeshoo. They discussed FEMA’s possible assistance in cleanup and recovery from the recent flooding in mid Michigan if the governor makes a request for federal assistance. FEMA continues to monitor the situation and is working closely with state and federal officials. Within thirty days of the incident, the governor must require a preliminary damage assessment or disaster declaration from the federal government in order for FEMA resources to be made available.

The cost to repair the roads is estimated at nearly $9 million, according to a Tuesday post by 9 & 10 News. The damage to structures, homes and businesses could raise that total to $13 million a source said.

Isabella County’s Chippewa River, with a flood stage of eight feet, peaked, officials said, at more than 13 feet and 90 roads were closed while the damage was assessed.

National Weather Service meteorologists say Mt. Pleasant got between five and eight inches of rain overnight Thursday and another one to two inches on Saturday.

Isabella County officials called it the second worst flooding in recorded history for the county and warned motorists to stay off county roads for at least 24 hours. Police officers were using SUVs instead of patrol cars to navigate flooded roads and streets.

According to Isabella County Road Commission officials, the roads were closed due to water over the roads or because they were washed out so badly, they had to be closed.

Wood TV said 87 roads were blocked, calling the flooding the “worst in 30 years.”

On June 24, YouTube said it was “the second highest flood crest in recorded history for the Chippewa River at 14.77 feet.

By Monday, 9 & 10 News reported that the Chippewa was going down but was still over flood stage at 8.7 feet.

On Tuesday morning the Isabella County Road Commission website said, “Due to recent weather the following roads are closed indefinitely. They said around 20 roads have sections that are completely washed away.

Blanchard Rd. between Lincoln & Crawford

Chippewa Rd. between Remus & River

Rolland Rd. between Deerfield & Millbrook

Loomis Rd. between Broadway & Remus

Wise Rd. between Pickard & Remus

Remus Rd. between Wise & Chippewa

Leaton Rd. between Baseline & Valley

Meridian Rd. between Pickard & Remus

Meridian Rd. between River & Pickard

Deerfield Rd. between Vandecar & Nottawa

Rosebush Rd. between Genuine & Loomis

Loomis Rd. between Vernon & Denver

Loomis Rd. between Vernon & Battle

Loomis Rd. between Beal City & Jordan

Beal City Rd. between Loomis & Chippewa

Wise Rd. south of Beal City Rd.

Deerfield Rd. between Shepherd & Loomis

Shepherd Rd. between Beal City & Jordan

Pleasant Valley Rd. between Curtis & Winn

Walton Rd. between Coldwater & Woodruff

9 &10 reported Tuesday that the Chippewa River had been downgraded from a flood warning to a flood advisory because the river levels are finally receding.
They also reported damage to about 40 Central Michigan University buildings. The worst is the Student Activity Center.

Friday’s storms also closed some roads in Clare County and caused some flooding, although the impact was not as severe here.

Clare County Emergency Management Director Jerry Becker said “Since we were not impacted that much we were deployed to Isabella on Friday with our military equipment and supports vehicle, and again on Sunday all day for damage assessment.

He said, “We were fortunate compared to our neighbors in Isabella and Midland Counties.” He said an average of 3.3 inches of rain hit Clare County with the heaviest rainfall in the southern part of the county.” Up to just over five inches of rain was reported just north of the Isabella County line and the Tobacco River came up approximately five and a half feet (measured just east of Clare). The rising river waters flooded Pettit Park in Clare and on the east side of the McEwan Street Bridge.

By Tuesday afternoon the river had receded to nearly normal levels.

Clare County Road Commission Engineer Manager Deepak Gupta said Monday, “We have about 20 minor washouts on various roads all over the county, which will be repaired within the next two days.”

Clare County Roads initially closed due to flooding and damage included:
Hatton Township    –     Harrison Railroad Grade Road (Mannsiding to Gladwin)   –   Now open
Sheridan Township   –    Washington (Hoover to Tobacco) – Now open
Sheridan Township   –    Washington (Tobacco to Brand) – Still closed Tuesday
Sheridan Township   –   Hover (Washington to Oak) – Still closed Tuesday
Grant Township    –    Harrison (County Line to Maple) – Still closed Tuesday
Surrey Township   –   Maple Grove (Hwy 115 to Old State) – Still closed Tuesday
Freeman Township  –  Strawberry  (Mannsiding to Monroe)  – Still closed Tuesday

The National Weather Service said a flood warning was in effect for the Tittabawassee River when Midland County got up to 7 inches of rain during the storms.
MLive.com reported more than 5 million gallons of partially-treated wastewater was discharged into the river near Saginaw.

The National Weather Service reported Sunday that the Saginaw River in Saginaw was at 18.1 feet and rising. The flood stage there is 17 feet. That river was expected to crest at 19.8 feet by Tuesday.

Flood warnings were also issued in Gladwin, Mecosta and Montcalm counties.

The high winds and thunderstorms Thursday night and early Friday also knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses, mostly in Monroe, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. DTE Energy reported about 80,000 without power but said about 30,000 had power restored by noon on Friday.

Residents in Midland County should report flood damage at 989-837-3500; Isabella County residents should call 989-779-1452 and Gladwin County residents should call 989-426-6871.

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