Lansing Hosts First of Three Post-Flood Public Meetings

Feb 27, 2018

Emergency management officials in Lansing are hosting the first of three public meetings tonight to provide follow-up information for residents affected by the floods.  The meeting will be at the Allen Neighborhood Center at 1611 E. Kalamazoo starting at 7 p.m.

 


WKAR’s Kevin Lavery spoke with Lansing Hazard Mitigation Coordinator Ronda Oberlin about the meetings...and about the numbers for the Flood of 2018.

  Ronda Oberlin:

We ended up with 10-year flood conditions, which is the level of flooding that has a 10 percent chance of happening in any given year.  So we now know where our 10-year floodplain is.   We ended up with probably 30 to 40 houses with water in their basements, only one or two with water above the first flood, which is good.  And then we also had about a dozen businesses that probably got flooded.  We’re waiting on the final numbers on that right now.

Kevin Lavery:

Any major injuries, traumas or emergency situations?

Oberlin:

No, we came through this really well.  No rescues, no injuries reported.  Everything went really well.  We really appreciate citizens evacuating when we asked them to.  That helped our response a lot and I’m sure it cut down on the number of incidents that could’ve occurred.

Lavery:

What are some of the key things that people need to know at this point?

Oberlin:

We’re going to be having three meetings.  The first one will be tonight at the Allen Neighborhood Center, we’ll also be meeting tomorrow night at the Neighborhood Empowerment Center in northwest Lansing and then on Thursday night at Bethlehem Lutheran Church near the Baker-Donora neighborhood.  In each meeting, we’ll be talking about concerns specific to the neighborhoods in that area.  So tonight, it will be mostly focused on Urbandale.  We’ll be talking about the flood barrier that we put up; under what circumstances we’ll be putting up a flood barrier in the future or not putting up a flood barrier to really help people understand their risk there.  We’ll also be talking about our acquisition program, because the Urbandale neighborhood is one of our acquisition neighborhoods.  So, we’ll be promoting that to people who are concerned about future flooding.

Lavery:

Acquisition meaning houses that are just in such a low-lying area that they’re not really salvageable?

Oberlin:

That’s correct.  Our acquisition target areas are the highest risk areas in the city.

Lavery:

In terms of prevention, are there proactive things that people can do short of actually raising the elevation of their home?  Or maybe that’s an option?

Oberlin:

Raising the elevation of the home is an option for a lot of neighborhoods.  It isn’t an option in some of our older neighborhoods where the houses maybe are not as well-built or not as well-maintained.   But there are definitely some neighborhoods where we will be actively promoting the idea of elevation.  We want to preserve neighborhoods wherever we can.  We have good, strong neighborhoods and we value that.  But really, there’s not a lot you can do to protect yourself from flooding without making your neighbor’s flooding worse, which is not something that we advocate, of course, short of actually bringing your home into compliance with floodplain regulations.

Lavery:

But, are there little measures you can take here and there?

Oberlin:

What you can do is raise your utilities up, get them above the level of the floodwater.  Move anything that could potentially be damaged out of that area, and that way you’ll recover a lot faster.

Lavery:

Are you expecting a lot of people tonight at the Allen Neighborhood Center and then in the next couple of meetings that follow?

Oberlin:

We’re hoping that we will get a good turnout from the neighborhoods.  We want to hear people’s concerns.  We want to hear about their experiences, we want to hear what we can do better in the future, and we want to talk to them about our plans in the city for reducing everybody’s flood risk.

Lavery:

It sounds like we generally came through this event fairly well.

Oberlin:

We did.  We were lucky that the flood levels were lower than expected.  We’ve been lucky for a long time; we’ve had such a nice, long dry spell.  People weren’t necessarily prepared for this flood, but everybody responded really well.  Our citizens did a great job, those who evacuated, we really appreciate that...and we hope that they’ll be interested and they’ll come out and talk to us tonight.