Kalamazoo flood warning has residents on alert

COMSTOCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A flood warning caused by an ice jam has many people living along a stretch of the Kalamazoo River closely monitoring the water level.

The jam near the King Highway Bridge is causing water to back up into the Merrill Park area of Comstock Township.

Emergency officials have been going door to door trying to alert people with the highest potential for flooding.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller says spotters are checking the ice jam and are keeping a close watch on the river.

“This is one of the larger ones that we’ve seen in this area,” Fuller said.

An ice jam that formed on the Kalamazoo River. (Courtesy of the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.)

Comstock Township has put up barricades closing Wenke Park and Merrill Park because of flooding. 

“The conditions are dangerous and that the water is moving quite rapidly in some areas and you might not see that until it’s too late,” Fuller said.

The sheriff is reminding people not to drive through floodwaters.

“We’re asking that everybody stay out of those areas,” Fuller said.

Barbara Blaisdell lives along Comstock Creek, which is connected to the Kalamazoo River.

She had to evacuate a couple years ago and is talking to family in case she has to leave again.

“There’s some years it doesn’t do that, and of course it depends on the winter in which you have and it’s just something that you have to go with,” Blaisdell said.

Maintenance work is underway at the nearby Morrow Dam and it is not clear exactly what that will mean for flooding.

“The river is down because of work being done at the dam, so this is not normal circumstances for the water’s flow and we are making sure that any precautions that can be taken to mediate these issues are being taken,” Fuller said.

While people in the area are hoping for the best, Blaisdell is preparing for the worst.

“The way it looks, it will be higher,” Blaisdell said. “You have to go with what you’ve got.”

Officials do not have an estimate for when they expect the ice to break up and the river flow to return to normal.