Weather a concern for flooding

ESCANABA – With high temperatures approaching the upper 50s earlier this week, many are turning their attention to possible flooding concerns.

“With frost lines as deep as they are, where is that water going to go? As your fields start to drain, where does that water go? It becomes a concern,” said Bob Berbohm, emergency management coordinator for Delta and Schoolcraft counties.

Another major issue being monitored are potential ice jams, which could specifically impact three critical bridges over the Rapid River, Sturgeon River in Nahma, and Ten Mile Creek. In Schoolcraft County, the Cope Bridge area where Indian Lake meets the Indian River is another area being monitored for ice jams.

“Every (river) bend is typically where you see the possibility of an ice jam, so then the water backs up. Where does it back up? Into people’s yards and basements,” said Berbohm.

Right now, Berbohm is communicating with several county officials and other key decision makers to assess their needs and concerns of potential ice jams and flooding.

“I’ve spoken with the road commission and drain commission – all the people I can make contact with. So far, like everywhere, we’re in a wait-and-see period. Mother Nature is going to dictate to us what happens here,” he said.

Berbohm noted there are many contingency plans the county looks at in these scenarios.

In the meantime, he hopes for a very slow thaw with warm days and cold nights. But it’s anyone’s guess what Mother Nature has in store.

“This is an unusual year because of the two polar vortexes that we encountered and we see that in the water freeze ups,” said Berbohm. “We see that in the roads. Potholes are starting to come up. The detection part, as far as damage, I don’t think we’ve even begun to see what has happened. I think that’ll come to fruition come late May or early June.”

Also being taken into account is the farming community and the freeze ups they have experienced this winter, which has impacted how they get water to their livestock.

But as spring inches closer, Berbohm reminds those living in a flood plain area to have a plan of action ready in case of a flooding emergency. They should always have a set of clothing and other essential items ready to go at a moment’s notice in the event of such a scenario.

Berbohm invites the general public to participate in a flood response exercise at www.drc-group.com/project/rrce.html. The flood response exercise is one of a series of exercises sponsored by the HandsOn Network and the Points of Light, according to the website. The flood response exercise will be held March 20 on the site.