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  • Jim Townsend

Ice Jam Causes Flooding and Evacuations

A group of Portland residents were awoken by emergency personnel early this morning, as an ice jam on the Grand River caused flooding that was threatening several houses.

In a press release issued before 4:00 AM on Wednesday, City Manager S. Tutt Gorman said, “Just after midnight on February 6, 2019, the Grand River in the City of Portland began to flood over the banks toward residential areas due to an ice jam. Emergency officials are currently working to evacuate affected areas and supply temporary shelters for those in need. At this time, approximately 50 residents have been evacuated.”

Parts of Water Street and Canal Street were shut down due to flooding, and remained closed into the evening.

In a follow up release issued after 5:00 PM, Gorman said, “After evacuating approximately 50 residents from the affected areas (Canal & Water Streets), Portland City Hall was designated as a temporary shelter. A permanent shelter was established at the Portland Church of the Nazarene with the assistance of the American Red Cross. At approximately 7:00 am, Canal Street residents were advised that they could return to their home due to the decreased flood levels. As of this afternoon, the shelter was no longer occupied – the evacuees either returned to their homes or staying with family or loved ones. Water Street remains flooded and its residents displaced.”

The release also said, “The City continues to work closely with County and State Officials, including Emergency Management Personnel, Michigan State Police – Dept of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service. At this time, we are cautiously optimistic that the river levels will continue to decrease, however, it is extremely difficult to predict under these conditions. The City, in consultation with local and state officials, explored various methods used to break up the ice. Said methods are not recommended or effective primarily due to the substantial size of the ice jam.”

The flooding has impacted several businesses in the downtown area including, The Blue Mason Jar, Fabiano's River House Grill, Mary's Cove Gifts & More, Vintage Tanning and ConfluxCity Brewing Company.

Based on the solid condition of ice down river at the Municipal Dam, it is likely that the ice jam in the downtown area will not be moving out any time soon. Residents are advised to stay off the ice.

The Portland Beacon has posted two photo albums on our Facebook page showing the affected areas.

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