Mark Christensen hasn’t seen flooding like this since 1986.
The managing director of the Road Commission for Montcalm County and his crew were out all day and night Thursday and are continuing to work today to re-open about 16 roads that have been closed due to high waters.
“It’s been challenging, to say the least,” Christensen said. “We have numerous roads closed around the county due to culvert failure and heavy rains. There’s high water everywhere you look.”
Carson City was one of the hardest-hit areas, with both M-57 and Mount Hope Road shut down, due to the flooding of Fish Creek and a failed culvert, respectively.
“Definitely the east side of the county is worst than the west,” Christensen said. “We’re working this morning to repair and open what we can. There’s a lot of water right now.”
Christensen advises motorists to use caution when they see water over the road.
“We’ve got a lot of signs up, but things keep changing,” he noted.
According to the Ionia County Health Department, flooding can pose health threats as surface waters are exposed to many sources of contamination. During a flood event, sewage runoff and overflow from lakes, rivers, and streams may be carrying bacteria such as E. coli and cholera, protozoa such as Giardia, and viruses such as hepatitis. If surface water enters a well, it may contaminate the drinking water.
If flood waters have reached your well, if you notice any change in appearance or taste of your water, or if you are just unsure about the safety of water in your area, you should boil all of the water you use for drinking, making beverages, cooking, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, and washing areas of the skin that have been cut or injured. The water should be brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute and then cooled as necessary. Bottled water can also be used for all of these purposes.
After flooding has subsided, if your well has been flooded, it is still unsafe. You must disinfect and then sample your well. Contact the health department for information on how to sample your water and where to take the sample for bacteriological testing.
Basement flooding can also pose health risks. Here are some safety tips:
• Make sure gas and electric are turned off. Do not go into a flooded basement with the electricity still on.
• Keep everyone out of the flooded area. There may be raw sewage in the flood water.
• Do not flush toilets. The contents of the toilet could end up in the flooded basement.
• Wash your hands with clean or disinfected warm or hot water and plenty of soap. Be sure to wash under rings and under your fingernails.
• Throw out all food and drinks that have been touched by flood water. Never taste food that has been exposed to flood water. If in doubt, throw it out.
• Use flashlights, never lanterns, matches or lighters.
• Wear rubber gloves and waders or boots.
• Cover all open sores or cuts with an adhesive bandage.
• Make sure that all windows are open to provide ventilation.
• You may want to take pictures for insurance purposes.
• Remove damaged items from the flooded area.
• Visit www.ioniacounty.org/health-department/default.aspx or call (616) 527-5341 for more information.