84th Street Dam holds strong, water level now dropping

Kent County
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CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Officials were concerned Friday night that the LaBarge Dam near 84th Street in Caledonia Township was at risk of breaking but the structure held strong into Saturday morning despite water levels more than four feet higher than what the dam was designed to handle.

On Friday, a worker noticed that a berm holding water back became saturated after a breach upstream in the Hastings area, Kent County Drain Commissioner Ken Yonker told 24 Hour News 8.

Workers brought in sand to reinforce the berm and Kent County sheriff’s deputies alerted residents living in low lying areas down stream of the concern.

Saturday morning, Kent County Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said the situation had improved. She said an engineer was expected to examine the dam later in the day.

“The water level is dropping and we expect no further issues,” she said.

County officials were stationed at the dam through the night to monitor it for signs of weakening. If the dam had breached, emergency alerts would be issued immediately and some would be evacuated.

The first casualty would likely be the 84th Street Bridge, which Yonker believed would be washed out by the rush of water.

“It’s like a nighmare,” Yonker said while talking about the scene at the dam Friday night. “I’ve never seen it like this — never imagined it could ever get this high.”

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