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Southern Michigan prepares for floods

Michigan State Police
Past flooding in Ionia

Local goverments in southern Michigan are bracing for possible flooding.

William Byl is Kent County's Drain Commissioner.  He said how serious it becomes depends on the temperature swing and on the amount of rain.

"These kind of conditions are really the perfect storm because what you have is snowmelt combined with rain on top of the snowmelt, all falling on frozen ground. And you have no place for the water to go," Byl explained.

Byl said water gets backed up in streets when the storm drains are blocked with snow and ice, combined with fallen leaves.  He said residents can help by digging out the storm drains in their neighborhooods so the water can flow into the drainage systems. 

Patrick Lindemann is the Ingham County Drain Commissioner. He's worried that the Red Cedar River and the Grand River could overflow. "We can anticipate that if the two feet of snow melts and we do get rain on top of it, and it happens within a 24 hour period or a 36 hour period, that these rivers will be overwhelmed and they will go out of bank," Lindemann says.

He advises residents in flood-prone areas to remove valuable items from their basements.

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom