Rockford, Grand Rapids flooding sets new records

By JOHN HOGAN

Rockford – and most of West Michigan, became a water wonderland last week as a second round of storms dumped nearly 6 inches of rain on the area, bringing the monthly rainfall total to almost 10 inches through last weekend (April 20). Flooding from the first round of storms April 6-13 was relatively minor.

Photo by John Hogan taken beneath the dam Friday evening as the Rogue River crested.

Photo by John Hogan taken beneath the dam Friday evening as the Rogue River crested.

It was a much different story last week; flood warnings were issued for six areas of Kent County along the Rogue and Grand rivers, including downtown Rockford. The deluge sent the Rogue River over its banks in several locations, including Pickett Park just south of the Rockford Dam. Adding insult to injury, sight-seers visiting the rain-swollen river were occasionally pelted with  snow showers Friday and Saturday. The Rogue River crested early Saturday (April 20) at 9.38 feet, nearly 1.4 feet above flood stage. It’s a high-water mark that hasn’t been seen in nearly 27 years.

Picket Park, just south of Rockford Dam, taken Saturday. Photo by John Hogan

Picket Park, just south of Rockford Dam, taken Saturday. Photo by John Hogan

The Rogue hit its record high level of 11.4 feet in September, 1986 after more than a foot of rain fell over a two-day period. The concrete Childsdale Dam south of Rockford collapsed at 2:15 a.m. Sept. 12, 1986, sending floodwaters down the Rogue River toward the village of Belmont. In all, 14 dams failed statewide during the 1986 floods, causing $227 million in damages to homes, businesses, roads and bridges.

Water flowing from the Rogue into the Grand River last week helped raise water levels nearly six feet over flood stage in Comstock Park. The Grand River in Comstock Park was expected to crest just under  18 feet on Monday (April 22), nudging out the former record of 17.8 feet  set in 1944.

See related story and more photos on pages 9 and 10.

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