Officials still wary about flooding

ESCANABA — Although the weather has been ideal for a slow thaw, there is still a concern for flooding as different agencies keep an eye on the water locally.

“The weather pattern right now is perfect. However … your streams and the smaller swampy areas, it’s not warm enough for them to flow yet so instead of draining they’re actually widening,” said Bob Berbohm, emergency management coordinator for Delta and Schoolcraft counties.

He explained once those smaller bodies of water let go, it will put a strain on culverts and some of the side drains.

When it comes to rivers, they’re opening up nicely with a slow, steady flow.

“Everything east of Garden Corners is open and on our side it’s not,” Berbohm said about river mouths. He added, the rivers in Delta County are flowing and opening nicely with no significant ice jams occurring.

“As the mouths open and the rivers open, the flow is going to increase here soon. It’s just how rapidly are the flows going to increase,” he said.

With the abundant amount of snow dumped on the area over the winter, there is a lot of snow melting as the weather warms.

Berbohm said the question where the water is going to go has been raised due to the high ground moisture that existed before winter and how wet and heavy the snow was.

“So far with it being warm during the day, freezing at night it has been a very slow thaw. We had a good wind, which helped dry things up. So, so far the weather pattern is where we want it — now it is just a wait and see, watch and prepare,” he said.

Multiple agencies are continuously keeping an eye on water levels and ice jams while they work around the county and cities — the road commission, law enforcement officers, fire department volunteers, EMS, to just name a few. However, Berbohm said the public is and needs to continue to be vigilant as their information is important.

“Our best and most knowledge resource that we can have is the general public because they live there and they know what happens in their backyard. That information gathered through Delta County Central Dispatch is just invaluable,” he said.

If disaster does strike, the county is not without a plan. There is the Delta County Emergency Action Guidelines (EAG) that is reviewed by the Michigan State Police Emergency Management Division.

Berbohm explained the guidelines are more reminder checklists as most involved have the experience and know what to do. He said the lists are compiled for each agency, like public works or law enforcement, and are dependent to the type of disaster.

“If it was significant enough we would open our Emergency Operations Center (EOC),” Berbohm said. The EOC team would be made up of the county board chair, county board vice chair, the emergency management coordinator, and all of the department heads from police, fire, EMS and road commission. Depending on where the emergency is, city officials may be involved, too.

“It’s all about team building and working together as a team when we respond to things like this,” Berbohm said. “Tapping into the best expertise and where our resources (are) located when needed.”

For the people who live near areas where there is a possibility of flooding, Berbohm suggests to have an emergency plan for your home, make sure sump pumps are operational, watch the water levels around your house and surrounding area, and to call 911 if there is an emergency.