'Major' flooding from ice jams on the River Raisin likely to persist in Monroe through the week

Carol Thompson
The Detroit News

Some Monroe residents have been surrounded by frigid water for days as ice jams on the River Raisin continued Monday to cause flooding in portions of the city.

"We've been stuck for how many days, now, four?" Frank Schwartz asked someone outside his apartment on a flooded East Elm Avenue. "Four days, at least. Since it started."

The neighborhood was "a mess" because of the flood, Schwartz said, describing water submerging car tires and reaching a neighbor's front steps.

Flooding started Friday when ice jammed up the river's flow and caused it to spill over its banks, said John Wall, Monroe Police Department acting commander. East Elm and East Front streets have been hardest hit. 

Water levels have receded slightly since Friday, but it's unclear when the flood will end, he said. 

Sandy Feasby takes photographs of a massive ice jam on the River Raisin, near Soldier and Sailor’s park, in Monroe, February 21, 2022.

"The levels in the river are still increasing because we haven't seen a breakup in ice as of yet," Wall said. "We're hoping the warmer weather that we've had will help break that up and the water pressure itself, with the river, will just flow out. When that happens, we would expect to see some relief of the roadways." 

At 11.8 feet high, the River Raisin is experiencing "major" flooding in Monroe, according to the National Weather Service stream monitor. Meteorologists expect it to remain at about that level through the week, although warm weather could break up the ice jams and allow water to flow freely and flooding to recede. 

"There's been a buildup of ice," National Weather Service meteorologist Ian Lee said. "It was already elevated water levels from the recent precipitation over the last couple weeks down there. The combination of the elevated river levels and then some ice buildup led to the river overflowing its banks and that caused the flooding ... in Monroe."

Houses on East Elm Avenue were victims of a massive ice jam on the River Raisin that flooded homes and streets in Monroe, February 21, 2022.

Weather service meteorologists are monitoring the levels every hour, he said. 

The highest recorded height of the River Raisin is 13.4 feet, recorded in 1984. Records date back to at least 1950, Lee said.

It also is the worst flooding Monroe has experienced in 30-40 years, Wall said.

City officials are not planning to break up the ice jams themselves, he said, fearing it "could cause untold damage we're really not prepared to deal with."

They don't want to damage "critical infrastructure" including bridges above the river or pipes that carry water from Lake Michigan to the water treatment plant for city residents to drink, he said. 

"We don't want to put the public in further harm by doing something to mitigate this issue," Wall said.

ckthompson@detroitnews.com

Staff Photographer David Guralnick contributed.