Kent County residents prepare as flooding concern grows
Updated: Sunday, April 21 2013, 12:45 AM EDT
GRAND RAPIDS (NEWSCHANNEL 3) -- The mayor of Grand Rapids declares a state of emergency.
This puts the city in line for federal or state funding, though the mayor has doubts that would happen.
Severe flooding potentials expected Sunday, could put the city at risk.
Sandbagging efforts have been taking place along the Grand River all day and State Police are monitoring the waters by helicopter from Ionia to Lake Michigan, as they brace for water to crest in Grand Rapids Sunday.
Flood waters have made its way into downtown buildings, including the Plaza Tower, evacuated because of a blown generator in the flooded basement. Many residents say, caught them by surprise.
"In the case of the Plaza Towers especially with that much water in the basement continuing to come in as fast as they pump it out, it could be days," said Mayor George Heartwell, Grand Rapids Mayor.
Sandbags are also protecting the Gerald Ford Museum.
The walkway to its rivers edge is underwater. Despite this, the sunny weather kept many out and about.
About 20 minutes East of Grand Rapids in Lowell, the city manager is asking residents to brace for high waters and urged people who don't live there to stay out.
At least half a dozen Red Cross shelters are set up to take families in the Grand Rapids area.
"People can come by just to take a shower, charge their phones, come in for a meal," said Chris Sandy, Red Cross Site Manager.
Bob and Cherry Lawrence who've been staying since Thursday say their Wyoming home has no power.
"It's better than sleeping at home in a cold, and I mean COLD place right now," said Bob Lawrence.
The city of Lowell had warned residents to brace for power to be shut off for residents east of the Flat River, but they lifted the warning and don't anticipate they'll need to do that.
Anyone who needs help from the Red Cross is told to call 211.