Flooding begins to subside as rivers recede in Lansing

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

While Lansing remains under a state of emergency Monday due to flooding, the city is seeing improvements as three main rivers begin to recede. 

The National Weather Service says the Grand River in Grand Rapids crested Sunday above 20 feet, more than 2 feet higher than flood stage in the Lansing area.

A City of Lansing front-end loader navigates flood waters to ferry supplies down Clippert Street to stranded crews manning pumps as the Red Cedar River continues to flood the Lansing area Friday.

River levels have started to drop following heavy rains and melting snow. Lansing officials said a barrier put in place at Kalamazoo Street and US-127 dramatically reduced the flooding effects in Urbandale neighborhood and has since been removed to open the highway. Pennsylvania Avenue at Potter Park Zoo has been swept for debris and is also open.

As of Sunday, there were no remaining major street closures due to flooding. The city, however, will remain in a state of emergency until all damage assessment has been completed.

“The way the City of Lansing responded to this flood highlights our preparedness and readiness to handle emergency situations,” Lansing Mayor Andy Schor said in a statement. “City employees, our emergency management team, first responders, community partners and citizens worked together at every stage of the way in a collaborative effort.”

Michael Tobin, Lansing's emergency management chief, said damage assessment teams are being sent to communities Monday and final assessment will be calculated Tuesday. From there, Tobin said officials will decide if a declaration of disaster will be made. 

"We would have to make a local declaration to help get financial aid to businesses and communities affected," Tobin said. "If we file, we should know by end of next week to see where the state will be at action-wise."

Tobin said most of the damage was in the Red Cedar River Corridor, which includes downtown, Lansing Township and Michigan State University. 

On Wednesday, MSU Interim President John Engler said the campus saw the worst flooding in over 40 years. Water levels were the highest they have been since 1975 when they reached 12 feet. 

As of Monday, water levels have begun dropping but MSU's campus continues to experience road, sidewalk, parking lot, bridge and area closures due to flooding after the river levels reached above 10 feet on Friday. 

Some areas of campus have reopened, including the Kalamazoo Street bridge by the Sparty statue and the pedestrian bridge near the computer center, according to Campus Safety. For a list of affected areas, visit msu.edu/emergency.

Mayor Schor and Lansing’s Emergency Management team continue to ask residents to stay away from flood water. The water is fast-moving and is also hiding debris, eroded ground and other dangers.