High Water Leads To Evacuations

By: Brian Johnson Email
By: Brian Johnson Email

"I woke up this morning and couldn't even see the sidewalk," said Steve Rose as he evacuated his home.

Rose is one of about 180 people abandoning residences along the Pine River. His street and sidewalk are covered in water.

"It's probably just short of knee deep at the deepest parts right now. Hopefully it doesn't rain anymore because it might go into our apartments at that point," said Rose.

But it will rain more and the Pine River is expected to rise.

"Now it's raining more," said Rose as the rain started again.

Rose was able to get his car out of the water, but others are not as lucky.

"I can't even move my vehicle out. I am afraid that the current will just take it away as it goes," said James Kinney who lives near the Pine River. "Occasionally we get a little flood, but not like this."

In 1986, the Pine River crest was actually two feet higher. The next highest crest was back in 1948, when the water reached nearly 11 feet.

Many folks in Alma know others who have several inches or feet of water in their basements because of the flooding.

"They've got a lot of water coming into their basement right now," said Sherry Mepham as she pointed to houses down stream. "They have got the streets blocked off all around that whole area over there." Mepham works in Alma.

The Pine River spilled over its banks and into the Riverside Park, a playground that is now under water. The River Walk is also flooded. The water even runs up against the Alma Public Library.

"I've never seen the river move this fast, although we did visit back last time Alma flooded. It was worse than this. We could not get close enough to see the dam," said Steve Lord, a science teacher at Alma High School.

The water rushes over and past the dam. The water is so backed-up and so high, buoys--that are about three feet tall and normally visible can barely be seen.

The flooding closed schools in Alma. Those not adversely effected by the flood can be seen walking around the city taking pictures, as if tourists in their own town.

"Oh my gosh, It's just--it's flooded everywhere. This is really weird," said Bonnie Lord, a third grader.

Alma has set up two evacuation shelters. One at the middle school, another at First Presbyterian Church. As of Friday afternoon Phil Moore, the City Manager, said all those who have evacuated have gone to friends or family.

The National Weather Service expects the Pine River to crest at 10 feet around 8 p.m. The water levels are expected to fall after that.

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