GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Officials in Kent County are preparing for possible flooding this weekend on the Grand River. They are expecting as much as 10 feet above the normal water levels, which would be some of the highest levels since the historic flooding of April 2013.
Emergency management crews are going to be closely monitoring the river levels and are expecting the Grand River to rise above flood stage early Monday morning in Grand Rapids.
Residents in some low lying areas of the city could wake up to flooded basements and drivers may need to take a different way to work. Crews say their number one safety is the concern of residents and first responders and want people to take necessary precautions.
"We've been talking with the National Weather Service and we are definitely looking at increased river levels," said Lisa LaPlante, community liaison and communications director for Kent County.
On Friday morning, water levels in the Grand River were at 13.8 feet and are expected to rise to 18.1 feet by Monday morning.
"This can be dangerous for some neighborhoods that are low lying in Grand Rapids, Comstock Park area, also down river we know that Robinson Township in Ottawa County tends to have issues when the water gets this high so we want people to be aware of it before any flooding becomes a problem for them" said LaPlante.
LaPlante says crews will be taking measurements throughout the weekend and monitoring the weather for any more rain. While this flooding won't be like the flooding of four years ago, LaPlante says it still poses a threat.
"We don't anticipate that this flooding event is going to be anywhere near as serious, that was three and a half feet higher than what we're anticipating right now, but we want people to be aware," said LaPlante. "We want people to know what's going on, especially if they live or travel in those places that are along the Grand River. Make sure you know in advance that there could be some issues."
LaPlante says there are a few things to be aware of going into the weekend: Don't drive along roads that are flooded and don't try to walk through shallow water.
"It only takes about six inches of water to knock a person off of their feet in water," said LaPlante. "If debris is coming down the waterway that can be an issue, but it also only takes about two feet of water for a car to be swept away. You don't know if that road is washed out or if you're trying to drive through a road that's closed. Make sure if you see water standing in the road or if you see barricades, don't try to pass through that road."
River levels should fall to below flood stage by Monday night, but LaPlante says it's better to be safe than sorry.
"The thing about Michigan weather is we never know what's going to happen from one day to the next so you have to be prepared," said LaPlante. "When these things happen you don't want to be caught off guard."
LaPlante recommends residents or drivers who travel through these areas should follow the Kent County Road Commission on social media for updates on road closures and the National Weather Service for flooding information.