Residents warned against flood contact, disposal

The Kent County Department of Equalization deployed teams on Friday, April 26 for damage assessment from the flooding that occurred over the past two weeks. Personnel from cities, townships and villages that were affected by flooding, as well as volunteers, started logging damage assessments around Kent County. It could be several weeks before a final estimate of the damage is determined. The extension of the local State of Emergency gives personnel time to accurately complete these assessments. The local State of Emergency declaration, signed April 19, remains in effect for all Kent County villages, townships and cities, through May 24, 2013. This process is necessary to determine if Governor Rick Snyder will issue a Declaration of Disaster, a step towards requesting FEMA funding or assistance.

Many people used sandbags to stop the floodwater from getting into their homes. Any sandbags that came into contact with floodwaters should be considered contaminated. DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE TRASH WITH REGULAR HOUSEHOLD GARBAGE.

The first testing of the Grand River was collected by the Kent County Health Department on Thursday, April 25, 2013. Three locations were selected by sanitarians:

Lowell (near the junction with the Flat River) Plainfield Township (near the junction with the Rogue River) Walker (near Johnson Park).

“The good news is that the E. coli scores are much lower than we anticipated, but they are just the first samples taken in these locations,” said Jack Stewart, Emergency Management Coordinator for Kent County. “We need at least three days of test results before we can determine the health of the water. Even once the water samples return with what the DEQ considers an acceptable level E. coli (under 300 parts per milliliter), the advisory will likely stay in effect due to debris, swift current and safety concerns.” The No-Contact Advisory remains in effect for the Grand River. DO NOT come into contact with the water until the advisory is lifted.

No updates are scheduled this weekend unless conditions warrant a news release. Updates and information on the flooding can be found at If you require additional information (or an on-camera interview) please contact Lt. Jack Stewart, Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator, at 616.632.6255, Undersheriff Jon Hess at 616.632.6236, or PIO Lisa LaPlante at 616.632.7182.

If you were evacuated from your home, DO NOT RETURN until authorities say it is safe to return. Local officials are working to determine when it is safe for residents to return to their homes, and with Consumers Energy to restore power when safe. If your power is out and/or your gas shut down, do not attempt to turn these on yourself. Do not light matches in a house or business until it is deemed safe.

The no-contact advisory for the Grand River throughout ALL of Kent County will remain in effect until further notice. Concerns include a fast-moving current, debris, and contamination. Our first responders have had to save several people who ventured into the water (via kayak or raft) and ended up in trouble. Stay out of the water – period.

Many residents may be using generators for power or kerosene heaters. Use these items carefully. Read and follow the manufacturer’s operating instructions before running any equipment. DO NOT use a generator inside your home, garage, crawl space, or other enclosed areas. Fatal fumes can build up. Generators should be located in a dry area outdoors, away from open windows, vents, or doors. Keep a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector near the area where you are running a generator. Do not use heaters or generators near combustible materials.

If you have well water and the well head was submerged at any time, your water may be contaminated. It should not be used for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, dish washing, or bathing. Water testing sample bottles are available from the Kent County Health Department and their four satellite clinics, as well as most township offices throughout Kent County. Until testing results are complete, use bottled water, DO NOT use your well water. People drinking or washing with water from a private well that has been flooded will risk getting sick. If you are uncertain about the integrity of your well, call a registered well driller or licensed plumber.

Clean and disinfect businesses and homes where the flooding occurred within 24-48 hours of returning. Wear gloves when handling anything that may have been in flood water or sewage. These areas could have organisms that cause illness to humans and pets.

Throw away any food that came in contact with floodwater or sewage, or, if in a freezer or refrigerator, throw out food with an unusual color, odor, or if the temperature is above 45° F internally.

Hazardous waste, such as gasoline, insect repellant, antifreeze or oil, can be taken to the Transfer station at North Kent Landfill, 2908 10 Mile Rd NE Rockford.

The American Red Cross continues to operate two shelter locations in Kent County, the Alpine Baptist Church in Comstock Park is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those needing overnight shelter should call 211. The American Red Cross also can provide residents with clean-up kits, which include a mop, gloves, broom, bucket, scrub brush and cleaning chemicals. For more information, contact the American Red Cross at 616.456.8661.


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The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.