Drain Commissioner: Overnight rains led to 100 year-flood event around Flint

May 4, 2012

The National Weather Service said a minimum of 5.25 inches of rain fell in parts of Genesee County overnight. We're following how the floods are impacting the area.

Update 2:00 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody was in Flint today. He reports the overnight storms "also knocked out power to thousands of Flint residents... and most of the city’s downtown traffic signals."

The power outage led to the closure of Flint City Hall.

Consumers Energy says thousands are without power in the area. From the Flint Journal:

3,600 customers are without power in the county today -- more than 2,100 in Swartz Creek and more than 1,400 in Flint.

Consumers spokeswoman Debra Dodd said it could be as late as 10 p.m. before service is fully restored.

"We has really bad thunderstorms that did quite a bit of damage," Dodd said.

12:30 p.m.

We got ahold of Genessee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright.

"The Swartz Creek is well out of its banks, near record levels, and it itself is flooding I-75 and I-69. So there's no traffic on I-75 and I-69 near their junction. So as you can imagine that's created a very bad traffic jam on top of the flooding situation," said Wright.

Wright said the Thread Creek, another tributary in the Grand Blanc area, was hit just about as bad.

He says the Flint River will hit flood stage of 13.3 feet at about 1:30 p.m. and they don't expect much relief until that flood stage is reached and waters recede.

Wright said they have crews out looking to see where they can relieve any plugged drain openings.

In the Flint area, the rains exceeded the capacity of the drainage systems and the rivers themselves.

Here's the raw interview:

11:54 a.m.

WDIV interviewed this trucker by phone as a helicopter flew overhead filming him.

The trucker was moving a load of potatoes southbound on I-75 near Flint and was stopped by rising flood waters.

He said he was initially 300 to 400 feet away from the water as safety officials began moving traffic off the highway. As this trucker was backing up, his truck quit, and there he sat.

Here's a link to WDIV's raw interview.

11:44 a.m.

"100-year floods," as they're known, mark a water level that expected to be seen once, or less than once, every 100 years on average.

It's a level that Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said happened today.

Ron Fonger of the Flint Journal quoted Wright:

"When you get water rising over roads, you've exceeded a 100-year rain event," county Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said this morning.

The National Weather Service said today that 5.4 inches of rain fell overnight, almost twice as much as the area usually gets in the entire month of May.

The Journal has photos of the flooding.

Fonger reports that "I-69 from Bristol Road to Hammerberg Road and I-75 from Bristol to M-21" are closed.

Fonger spoke with residents in Grand Blanc Township where floodwaters "were so high that boats were brought in to help evacuate people."

Sarah Kleparek, 31, came home from work around 2:30 a.m. and everything thing seemed OK. But an hour an half later she said she heard car alarms start going off and when she looked outside the water was already up to her windows on her car.

Around 7 a.m. this morning, she was able to quickly pull a bag together and evacuated her apartment after firefighters came with a boat.

"It was just so fast," Kleparek said.

We're working to reach Drain Commissioner Wright for comment. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody will have more on this story later today.