NEWAYGO, Mich. (WOOD) — Newaygo County authorities say residents shouldn’t return to their homes along the flooded Muskegon River until teams check for safety hazards.
The governor Thursday declared a State of Disaster in Newaygo County, making state resources available to the county after the Muskegon River rose as much as four feet above flood stage.
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The county says about 403 homes and several roads sustained damage as a result of severe weather and flooding since April 12. Homeowners were asked to evacuate early last week due to quickly rising flood waters.
In a Monday release, Newaygo County Emergency Services asked that homeowners not return to their property until emergency officials announce roads and driveways are safe.
Meanwhile, crews are clearing some areas and flagging property that needs to be checked out by inspectors.
Assessment teams will check those properties for any electrical, structural, utility and safety problems. Teams will post notices of problems on a home’s door, as well as information packets about necessary initial safety inspections and what steps need to be taken before people can resume living in their homes.
Emergency Services Director Abby Watkins said in a statement that the county has brought in extra resources to make that process go as quickly as possible.
“There is no cost to the homeowner for all initial inspections,” she said.
The county last week asked electricity providers to cut power to many properties along the river in an effort to decrease the risk of electrical fire. The Monday release from emergency officials said power will not be restored until inspectors have checked properties and determined they are safe.
A multi-agency resource center will be open at St. Bartholomew’s Church located at 599 W. Brooks St. in Newaygo between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. from April 23 to April 26.
The Department of Human Services said in a Monday release that the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, food and clothing pantries, home cleanup experts, tree and debris removal services, and other agencies will be available at the center to help residents.
DHS said it would have representatives at the center taking applications for the State Emergency Relief program, which provides immediate help for low-income households. The program will help people find safe, affordable housing and other essential needs including home repairs, extermination, replacing things like hot water heaters and waste disposal systems, electrical and plumbing repair, roof repair, and setting up accommodations for people with disabilities like wheelchair ramps.
Several roads that sustained significant damage during the floods remained closed Monday. The most recent road closures can be found at Newaygo County’s website.
The river access sites at Pine Street, Thornapple Avenue and Henning Park have been reopened, though people are still asked to avoid the river downstream of the City of Newaygo “due to unsafe conditions that accompany rapid currents, high water and dangerous debris,” the release says. Other Newaygo County and Michigan access sites to the river are still closed.
A Sunday release from Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security said the state was aiding Newaygo County in recovery efforts. It also said conservations officers with the Department of Natural Resources had been pulling floating propane tanks from the water in nearby Osceola County further down the Muskegon River, which also sustained flooding damage. By Sunday afternoon, they had recovered about 40 tanks.
A multi-agency resource center serving Osceola County will be open between noon and 4 p.m. April 23 through April 25 at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church located at 9878 US-10 in Evart.