Portland neighbors rally together after ice jam, flood

Ionia County

PORTLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly a week after monstrous ice jams caused destructive flooding, damage remains an ongoing issue for residents and businesses in Portland.

City officials requested that the governor declare a state of emergency, but for now everyone is working with what resources they have.

Great Lakes Publishing on Kent Street suffered lots of flood damage in the basement after the river poured in last week.

“All the drywall needs to be replaced. Our phones are fried,” co-owner Kim Kramer told 24 Hour News 8.

Kramer, her employees and family members joined cleanup crews Tuesday, trying to salvage what they can.

After the flooding, Hometown Sports on Bridge Street quickly cranked out a new design for Ice Jam 2019 T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts.

“Proceeds from these shirts are going directly to the community fund to help,” said employee Amanda May.

The Portland Community Fund Association helps residents and organizations during hard times. The ice jam flooding definitely qualifies. The association is offering checks up to $500 to ease the recovery process for flood victims. Anyone affected can get the one-page application on the foundation’s website or at Portland City Hall. The checks are given shortly after applying and attaching receipts and any photos of damage.

Foundation Vice President Evelyn Walkington-Jensen said the group has already given out about $2,000.

“We’re being told there’s 25 businesses affected and 38 homes, but with our funds we currently have, that will just about deplete what we have,” Walkington-Jensen told 24 Hour News 8.

Selling ice jam shirts will hopefully help, she said.

“Over the weekend, just in two days, we sold over 100 shirts,” Walkington-Jensen said.

It’s a fundraiser that proved extremely helpful after the 2015 Portland tornado.

“It helped tremendously,” May said. “We donated between $12,00 and $13,000, which, you know, it’s not a little chunk of change.”

“We’re very proud of our community and it’s like any little thing that we can do, even if it means a little extra work, a little more hours for us to be down here, that’s minimal if it’s going to help anybody out,” she continued.

The help doesn’t stop there. There’s also a Facebook page were community members can post requests for assistance and offer services as many try to regroup.

Tutt Gorman, the city manager, said that ice jams upriver forced water levels back up near the city on Tuesday.

“We want to prepare and plan for the worst case scenario,” Gorman said. “Under these circumstances, it’s sort of the same thing you can’t predict where the waters will go.

“This will pass and we’ll be stronger for it in the end,” he added.

>>App users: Photos of the ice jam and flooding

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