Grand Rapids infrastructure investment credited for saving city
Caroline MacGregor April 22, 2013 | WGVU “River levels as of today as of 11am are at 21.95 feet; crest was reached yesterday at 9pm at 21.85, so the river is receding. “
Mayor George Heartwell says the Grand River has reached levels never before
been seen in the city’s recorded history, even surpassing flood levels of 1904.
The mayor attributes the city’s ability to hold back the flood waters to
investment in infrastructure.
“Years of thoughtful planning, strategic construction of flood walls and berms, investment in storm water infrastructure, a highly qualified and capable staff and then what began as a trickle of volunteers and what rapidly turned into its own type of flood - more than 300 people were on hand to assist with preparations yesterday morning alone.”
The city was
able to protect the Wastewater Treatment Plant and millions of dollars of
public and private property from damage. The mayor says hundreds of families
and businesses were protected from displacement because the city was proactive.
continue to survey the river - MSU offering one of their helicopters for that
"Yesterday when the mayor and I and the chief were in the helicopter looking at the Grand River, we toured probably 40 miles of the Grand River and there was only a very small stretch - only 5-10 miles that goes through Grand Rapids that was not flooded."
something City Manager Greg Sundstrom attributes
directly to the city’s flood walls. There
is still vulnerability, however, throughout the system - officials will remain
vigilant and continue to monitor flood walls. While a crisis mode could return
in the event of excessive rainfall over the next 3 days or problems with
buildings, walls or bridges arise, the mayor says the city will be able to manage
the situation. Residents still needing sandbags can pick them up at 201 Market.
Greg Sundstrom estimates damage from the flood could reach 500 thousand
dollars. The mayor has talked to US
Senator Debbie Stabenow and says while there may be some state and federal
funds available for disaster relief it would take action of the state
legislature and governor’s signature for that to happen.
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