Severe weather, flooding damages 400+ homes

The view from above as the Muskegon River floods in Newaygo County. (April 14. 2014)
The view from above as the Muskegon River floods in Newaygo County. (April 14. 2014)

NEWAYGO, Mich. (WOOD) — Hundreds of homes in Newaygo County have been damaged from severe weather and flooding over the past several days.

Around 403 homes have been damaged in the area since April 12, according to a press release from Newaygo County officials. Significant road damage has also been sustained. Officials are now asking residents to remain out of the impacted areas until it has been deemed safe by emergency crews.

“We want to make sure we have an organized process in place to guide homeowners through the process of getting back into their homes as quickly as possible, once it is safe to do so,” said Newaygo County Emergency Services Director Abby Watkins. “Because many of the homes were substantially impacted by the flood waters, there are safety concerns that need to be addressed to protect homeowners from electrocution, structural failure, gas leaks, and other hazards caused by the flood water.”

Once roads and driveways to home are accessible, assessment teams will begin looking for damage and safety issues including electrical, structural, and utility issues.

FILE -- A swelling Muskegon River near Maple Island in Newaygo County (April 18, 2013).

FILE — A swelling Muskegon River near Maple Island in Newaygo County (April 18, 2013).

If there is a safety issue, assessment teams will post a notice on the front door to notify the homeowner of what initial inspections need to be obtained to make the home safe. An information packet will also be placed on the door detailing what steps need to be taken prior to re-entering their home.

“This process is in place for the homeowner’s safety,” stated Watkins. “We are bringing in additional resources to make the process as fast as possible. In addition, there is no cost to the homeowner for all initial inspections.”

For the areas where emergency officials have requested the power be turned off, electrical service will not be restored until local inspectors have determined the area is safe.

Based on current river forecast data from the Grand Rapids National Weather Service, the Newaygo County Emergency Operations Center does not anticipate being able to access flooded homes until Monday, April 21,  at the earliest. However, assessment teams are on standby throughout the weekend so if roads and driveways in an area do become accessible, teams will be ready to deploy.

Water and Flood Cleanup Kits will be available at St. Bartholomew Church located at 599 W. Brooks Street in Newaygo on Thursday from 2pm – 4pm and Friday and Saturday from 10am – 4pm.

For evacuation assistance or assistance with storm damage including tree cutting and cleanup, in Newaygo County, please call 211 or 231-689-7307.

A multi-agency resource center will also be established in Newaygo County by the American Red Cross next week. This will be a location where all disaster relief agencies, both public and private, will come together to provide assistance to those affected by the disaster. Specific location and times of operations will be released on April 21.

Newaygo County is not taking any volunteers at this time.

All Muskegon River access sites operated by Newaygo County and those operated by the State of Michigan remain closed and the public has been asked to avoid the Muskegon River due to unsafe conditions that accompany rapid currents, high water and dangerous debris.

For a current list of road closures, please visit the Newaygo County website.

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