Overflowing Muskegon Lake flooding roads, homes

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — As Michigan lakes and other waterways continue their record rise, it’s not just the coastlines getting pounded. One neighborhood along Muskegon Lake is dealing with flooded streets and soaked basements.

John Ledsworth has, more or less, abandoned ship. The carpet in his boathouse on the south shore is soaked by Muskegon Lake, which has inched up to his front deck.

Fortunately for him, the damage has been minimal compared to others in the neighborhood.

“It’s inconvenient. It’s financially stressful. I know some people down the street … it’s 12, 14 inches in their basement,” Ledsworth said.

Fighting the floodwater is a losing battle. The ground is saturated, forcing the water through cracks in basement floors and foundations. Residents try to block it and pump it out.

Flooding around Muskegon Lake
Sandbags surround John Ledsworth’s boathouse on the south side of Muskegon Lake to try to keep rising waters out. (June 18, 2019)

“We got sandbags as quick as we could and we got a pump running on this side,” Ledsworth showed 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “We’re pumping it back into the lake so the lake can send it back into us.”  

So residents do what they can and hope for a warm and dry spell.

“You don’t stop it. You slow it down and take a deep breath and live. At least it’s not catastrophic in a loss of human life,” Ledsworth said.

City Hall is keenly aware of the problem.

“I understand it because I live there. It’s just really hard. It’s hard to fight Mother Nature,” Muskegon City Manager Frank Peterson said.

Like many of his neighbors, Peterson pumps the water from his sump crock out to the storm sewer. From there, it goes into Muskegon Lake and eventually right back into his basement.   

Peterson admits that there’s not much the city can do. It recently pumped floodwater into the sanitary sewer systems so it could make flood-related repairs to Edgewater Street, but that’s not a permanent fix. Water pumped into the sanitary system goes to the county sewer treatment plant, where it has to be treated, and that’s expensive. Peterson estimated that pumping through the summer would cost just under a quarter of a million dollars. 

“It would be unfair to all of the ratepayers of Muskegon to essentially pay with their sewer bills to pump clean water otherwise into the sanitary and then pump it out to the county wastewater plant,” Peterson said.

While he admits the nuisance for some residents is an expensive mess for others, Peterson’s advice to his neighbors is to do the best they can to keep the water at bay.

“I would just say be diligent. And you know what, this too shall pass,” he said.

Neighbors are also putting out a plea to stay off their street if you don’t live there. They say that every time someone passes through water on the street, it’s forced back into their basements.

Flooding around Muskegon Lake
A sign on a flooded street near Muskegon Lake asks people to go slowly to keep water from splashing back into homes. (June 18, 2019)

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