State Police Urge Residents to Prepare for Possible Flooding

         Heavy Rain and Snow Melt Could Cause Flooding in Southern Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                         February 20, 2018

LANSING, MICH. With parts of southern Michigan experiencing heavy rain and snow melt, the Michigan State Police is encouraging residents and visitors to prepare for possible flooding.

The National Weather Service says up to two inches of rain has already fallen on parts of southern Michigan and is forecasting another two to three inches of rain through Thursday. Areas that could experience flooding include: Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Portage, Jackson, Holland, Ionia, Grand Haven, Charlotte, Albion, Mason, St. Johns, Hastings, Marshall, Belding, Eaton Rapids, Allegan, South Haven, Portland and Plainwell.

“Floods can be both damaging and life-threatening,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division. “Residents should take steps to prepare and stay safe. They should protect their property against any flooding hazards and check to ensure they are covered by insurance. When traveling, please be careful and do not drive through flooded roads.”

While flooding is most prevalent near low-lying areas and bodies of water, it can occur almost anywhere, including near small streams, creeks and even basements. Flash floods are the No. 1 cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S., according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Terms to Know

  • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible in your area.
  • Flash Flood: Rapid flooding, usually in low lying areas. Water floods with great force.
  • Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible in your area.
  • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur in your area. Move to higher ground and listen to local media for evacuation orders.
  • Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring. Seek higher ground and listen to local media for evacuation orders.

Preparing for a Flood

  • Create an emergency preparedness kit with a 72-hour supply of water, including three gallons per person.
  • Scan and store important documents on an online, cloud-based program.
  • Put important documents and valuables in a water-proof container on the top floor of your home.
  • Check with your utility to learn how to safely turn off electricity and gas lines in your home.
  • Create an inventory of your household items and take photos of the interior and exterior of your home.
  • Consider installing sewer backflow valves to prevent flood water from backing up into your home through drain pipes.
  • Double-check sump pumps to ensure they are working properly. If possible, have a battery backup system.
  • Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.
  • Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
  • Raise or flood-proof heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment by elevating equipment above areas prone to flooding. Another method is to leave equipment where it is and build a concrete or masonry block flood wall around it.
  • Anchor fuel tanks. Unanchored fuel tanks can be easily moved by floodwaters.
  • Residents who live near a storm drain should clear the drains of snow and other debris.

During a Flood

  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Disconnect all electrical equipment.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches is enough water to knock you down.
  • Listen to local media reports for information on whether the water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid contacting flood waters because they can be contaminated by hazardous liquids and may contain sharp debris.
  • Report and stay 25 feet away from downed power lines.

Driving in Flood Conditions

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling. A foot of water will float many vehicles.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickups trucks.
  • Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
  • Do not drive around a barricade. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
  • Do not try to take short cuts—they may be blocked. Stick to designated routes.
  • Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.

In addition to flooding preparedness, residents are encouraged to purchase flood insurance. Homeowners’ or property owners’ insurance does not typically cover flood damage.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) estimates that 90 percent of all natural disasters involve flooding. An inch of water can require a property owner to replace carpet, drywall, floor boards, moldings, doors and other belongings. Additionally, clean-up of mud and residue can be costly, as can repairing any mold and mildew damage that may occur.

For more information about what to do before, during and after flooding, go to or follow the MSP/EMHSD on Twitter at @MichEMHS.

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