Engler: MSU faces worst flooding since ’75

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

East Lansing – Michigan State University is coping with the most significant flooding on campus in more than 40 years, interim President John Engler said Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference, Engler said water levels on the Red Cedar River, which runs through campus, are the highest since 1975, when they reached 12 feet. According to the National Water Information System, the river was above 9 feet Wednesday; flood stage is at 7 feet.

Engler said MSU is prepared but wants the public and students to be aware of the problems caused by the high water.

“Be careful if you’re trying to come to campus,” he said. “Changing conditions are affecting not only the roads but sidewalks and walkways.”

While this week’s heavy rain has ended, the river at East Lansing remains under a flood warning until Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

University staff planned to work until late Wednesday erecting framed plastic barriers filled with sand along the river.

Lynda Boomer, director of planning design and construction for MSU, said the university will keep 1,200 feet of barrier up until spring.

Engler said classes scheduled Thursday are being moved out of buildings at risk for flooding, including the Kresge Art Gallery, Jenison Field House, computer center and the IM Sports Circle.

Other areas in lower Michigan face high water as well.

Diane Cross, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, said flooding is affecting Telegraph and Michigan Avenue and the Ecorse Creek area in Dearborn.

“We had a trouble spot this am on U.S. 24/Telegraph under U.S. 12/Michigan Avenue from about 6 a.m.-1 p.m,” she said. “We got a pump out there and cleared it. In the Dearborn area, when a lot of rain causes the Ecorse Creek to rise, we get some flooding on Telegraph.”

In Washtenaw County, officials with the county Road Commission are monitoring flooding caused by rain and melting snow.

“We ask that drivers use caution anytime they see water over a road and to seek an alternate route if possible,” spokeswoman Emily Kizer said.

Sarah Rahal contributed.