Midwest flooding expected to last through weekend
Feb. 24, 2018
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Flooding that prompted evacuations in parts of the Midwest persisted Friday in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio and was expected to last through the weekend in areas that have been swamped by high water from heavy rains and melting snow.
Waters receded in South Bend and Goshen, Indiana, but flooding remained there and elsewhere. The National Weather Service said a number of Michigan rivers could see record levels in the coming days. In Ohio, water swamped more roadways and basements and forecasters expected the Ohio River could reach levels not seen since the region's deadly 1997 floods.
Restaurants and other business and recreation spots from Cincinnati for miles east along the river closed, as water cut off roadways and swamped parks. Forecasters warned people living along rivers, streams and creeks in southern Ohio, southeastern Indiana and northern Kentucky to be especially cautious and prepared for rapid rises.
"We're trying to keep spirits up," said Bob Lees, owner of Front Street Cafe in New Richmond, Ohio, more than 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Cincinnati. He said the opening song picked for Friday night's music was "Cry Me A River."
The rising Ohio River levels led to the closure Thursday of southern Indiana's Horseshoe Casino at least through Sunday. The casino is housed on a riverboat.
The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office in southwestern Michigan said the Kalamazoo River set a record Friday morning, reaching 11.25 feet (3.4 meters), surpassing a record set in 1947 of 10.94 feet (3.33 meters). The river was expected to crest Friday night
"During the next 24-36 hours flood conditions are expected to worsen," the sheriff's office said in a news release.
A dam on the river was opened Thursday to relieve pressure on it, Undersheriff James VanDyken said.
The city of Grand Rapids closed the Grand River to recreational use, including anglers and watercraft, with violators subject to arrest or fines.
Flooding prompted local states of emergency in several Indiana and Michigan communities and counties. Shelters took in people forced from their homes and water-related deaths were reported this week in Michigan, Illinois and Oklahoma. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb toured flood-ravaged parts of northern Indiana on Friday.
Lansing Emergency Management Chief Mike Tobin cautioned people to stay off flooded roads and not to expect to immediately return to evacuated homes even though floodwaters there were expected to begin receding. Hundreds of homes and businesses were impacted, the Lansing State Journal reported.
"We are far from done with this," Tobin said. "We are going to have serious water levels. In some neighborhoods, it will be short as a few days. Other ones could potentially be as long as a week plus."
Along the Red Cedar River in Lansing, 32-year-old Michael Ezzo told the newspaper that he was grateful to have flood insurance. He described life this week in the house as "hell," noting couch cushions floating in water in his basement.
"After the water started coming into the basement, there was just nothing we could do," Ezzo said.
Flooding also hit nearby Michigan State University, where some roads, parking lots and athletic fields were covered by water from the Red Cedar River that runs through its East Lansing campus. Classes in several buildings were relocated and the school put up sand-filled barriers in an attempt to curb flooding.
In Indiana, record-high flooding along the St. Joseph River closed down a wastewater treatment plant for several hours in South Bend, a city of about 100,000 residents. It later restarted at limited capacity. The National Weather Service reported the river was expected to stay above its major flood stage until Tuesday.
In South Bend's Keller Park neighborhood, David Loughlin planned to remove flood-damaged furniture and appliances from his basement. He was out of town earlier this week and returned Wednesday night to find his home surrounded by water.
"I bought this house in 1972 and have never seen anything like this," Loughlin, who doesn't have flood insurance, told the South Bend Tribune.
Officials haven't yet estimated the extent of building damage, which is concentrated in low-lying areas.