Lansing Emergency Management: Keep Your Eyes on the Water

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The city of Lansing’s Emergency Management team wants you to keep your eyes on the rivers. They’re concerned ice slabs on the water, and debris from winter storms could create flash floods.

In some places, Lansing’s Riverwalk is literally in the river. The rising water is swallowing trees and creating worry about flooding. Ronda Oberlin is an Emergency Management Specialist for the city of Lansing. “I've been in Emergency Management for 15 years and I’ve never seen a year like this."

The year began with an ice storm, frigid temperatures, and heavy snow. Oberlin says, “We had more snow than usual. We had more water in the snow. We had more ice on the rivers. The ground was more frozen, so we are waiting for all of that to come together. We want the snow to get into the rivers, and then the rivers to lower, before we have any serious rain."

Add to the worries, the threat of ice jams. They’re caused when ice melts on the river, gets clogged up, and blocks the flow of water. It can happen fast, and it's hard to predict. Oberlin says, “If it happens, it will be in a localized area, it will be somewhere where we can't foresee it happening. Because it won't be registered by a river gauge like a normal flood would. It's going to happen somewhere in a neighborhood, or in a woods or someplace where we're not going to be able to know its happening until it actually happens."

This year, broken tree branches and debris from December’s ice storm have created more worry for ice jams. Emergency managers are keeping a close eye on the worst areas. But they want your help. Says Oberlin, “If you live near the river, if you work near the river, if you're on the Riverwalk, just keep an eye on the ice, keep an eye on the debris, and if you see anything unusual happening and it looks like it's starting to flood, then we want you to call 911."