Record-breaking flood levels hit Osceola County
OSCEOLA COUNTY — Flood levels in Osceola County are at the highest recorded in documented history, said Osceola County Emergency Management Director Mark Watkins.
“We are under a flood warning by the National Weather Service out of Grand Rapids with the highest flood level for this area in documented history,” Watkins said. “This has even surpassed levels from the Great Flood of 1989.”
Watkins said many people living near M-66 and 9 Mile Road in Sylvan Township have evacuated and emergency services are monitoring the subdivisions to make sure people are out of the endangered areas.
A shelter has been established at the Evart Middle School for those forced out of their homes.
Watkins said Osceola County went into a local state of emergency on Monday to activate the county’s emergency plan and be able to access the fullest amount of resources available.
Watkins said road closures throughout the county are constantly being updated. Several residents’ driveways have also been washed out.
“It’s basically what you’d expect to get when you have record level flooding,” he said.
Watkins said people must remember that flood waters can be dangerous and are nothing to mess with. If someone’s home or property is threatened or beginning to be cut off, they should leave immediately and find a safe place.
“People may think they are just fine inside their homes, but they shouldn’t stay if emergency services aren’t going to be able to access them if something comes up,” Watkins said.
Evart City Manager Zack Szakacs said some roads in the city were shut down, such as 9th Street and Pine Street.
Riverside West Park is experiencing flooding and has been closed, Szakacs said.
“The creeks are going down, but the Muskegon River is still flowing pretty hard,” he said. “We still don’t know what’s going to come from the north, plus we’re expecting rain, so we will see how we are doing over the next few days.”
Two of the Evart’s wells also were shut down to avoid electrical problems.
Watkins encourages people to sign up for emergency alerts from www.nixle.com, which will send texts and alerts to update residents on the status of conditions in their area.
For non-emergencies and updates, people should call the county informational line at 211 and refrain from calling 911 unless absolutely necessary, Watkins said.
Those who have lived in the area for a long time should not be surprised this regularly happens this time of year and should be prepared for it, Watkins said.
“This flooding occurs annually, almost like clockwork, and we schedule around it because we expect we are going to need extra help,” he said. “This is what the river does. Everyone should take the extra precautions and have an emergency kit and a plan for when this happens.”