BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Rivers and creeks in the Big Rapids area overran their banks Wednesday as a slow-moving system dumped heavy rain on the region.
Police asked people to avoid Big Rapids, saying flooding and associated traffic backups made many streets “impassable.” West of the city, 220th Avenue was covered with water between Madison Street and Woodward Avenue.
Hemlock Street between N Michigan Avenue and N State Street is closed due to damage, the Big Rapids Department of Public Safety said in a release. It is closed indefinitely.
N Michigan Avenue from E Pine Street to E Bellevue Street will be closed until mid-day Thursday, police say.
Tim Wallace, whose family has lived nearby on 17 Mile Road in Big Rapids for decades, told News 8 that their basement was flooded.
A family’s basement is flooded tonight in Big Rapids.— Byron Tollefson (@byron_tollefson) May 11, 2022
The water is nearly touching their electric outlets. Their freezer and other belongings are floating in the water. @WOODTV pic.twitter.com/PGX6FP1Dqe
On Wednesday night, the water was nearly rising high enough to touch their electric outlets. Their freezer and other belongings were also floating in the water.
“I actually live on Lake Michigan, and I drove over to see my mom,” Wallace said. “And I couldn’t get here. There was no way to get here except driving through water.”
It’s the worst flooding that Wallace has seen since 1982, when water also damaged the home.
“We had a chest freezer we had to replace,” he said. “Washer and drier had to be replaced. And everything that got flooded.”
Other residents stood outside their homes, keeping an eye on whether the water would affect them as well.
“I stand out here hoping it will slow down,” Big Rapids resident Jerry LaForge said. “Cause they come through here pretty fast. Most of them come through pretty fast.”
You should never drive through standing water. It’s difficult to tell how deep it is and you can’t tell whether the road underneath is intact. Authorities remind people to “turn around, don’t drown.”
You shouldn’t play in floodwaters, either. Not only can the water be filthy and contaminated with bacteria, it can move dangerously quickly.
While News 8 photojournalist Kyle Wilson was recording video of the flooding at Mitchell Creek Park in Big Rapids on Wednesday afternoon, a young man jumped into the water. The current started to carry him away. He grabbed on to a bench, but that was being washed away, too. Wilson grabbed a portable lighting pole, extended it out for the young man and pulled him to safety.
Mecosta County Emergency Management said the Big Rapids area got between 2 and 4 inches of rain. Farther north, parts of Isabella County reported 4.5 inches of rain in a single hour.
The area is not expected to get any more rain until Saturday.
—News 8’s Joe LaFurgey contributed to this report.