Flood hits with no flash: Heavy rain washes out some repairs from June 17
HOUGHTON — A record rainfall for this date overnight on Tuesday through Wednesday morning caused widespread flooding and other storm damage throughout Houghton County on both sides of the Lift Bridge.
Houghton County Road Engineer Kevin Harju said there had been “quite a bit” of flooding on county roads.
“The ground’s really saturated, so the water’s flowing everywhere right now,” he said. “We’re having issues in pretty much the same areas that were affected by the Father’s Day flood.”
Roads affected included Lower Massie Road, Green Acres, Hancock Road, Lakeshore Drive, Hilltop Road and Houghton Canal Road.
“We’re expecting a lot of flooding, and some of the repairs that we’d completed for winter — not permanent, but temporary — have washed out, and we’ll be back to square one in those areas,” he said.
After going over Creamery Road, Harju thinks portions of it may become undermined during the day. The same may also happen to Houghton Canal Road, where water was flowing over the roadway by Markham’s Marina.
“We may have to excavate that road just to let the water relieve itself down to the canal site,” he said.
A flood warning has been issued for the Sturgeon River near Alston. Harju said road issues haven’t been reported at the Sturgeon yet, although flooding there usually follows a day or two after a significant rain event.
Emergency crews were out slowing traffic due to water over the road. Impacted areas include M-26 between Hancock and Lake Linden and U.S. 41 and Broemer Road, said Houghton County Sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Saaranen.
There were trees down on Canal Road and M-203. More rain and winds are expected throughout today.
“We’re watching the weather,” Saaranen said.
The National Weather Service out of Negaunee reports around 1.75 to 2.25 inches of rain fell throughout the Keweenaw. With Copper Harbor receiving just under 1.9 inches, 2.21 inches in Rockland, 1 to 2 inches in Baraga and 2.13 inches just northwest of the Houghton canal.
An inch more is expected today as additional rain moves through the area from Wisconsin.
The low pressure system will bring rain and wind with gusts up to 30 mph, with sustained winds of 20 mph, said meteorologist Jordan Wendt.
Many rivers are currently running high in “action stage,” he said, and may rise further as more runoff is added. Most won’t likely reach flooding stage but residents should be cautious near the banks, Wendt said.
The Sturgeon River on the other hand is expected to rise to minor flooding stages this afternoon. Saaranen reported trees down and water on roads but no reports of damage or injuries as of 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
Reports of water on or over the road have come in at several locations on M-26, including Lake Linden and Mason, said Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Weingarten.
As of Wednesday morning, the only closure is on M-203 near Brooks Road, about three miles north of the city of Hancock in Hanock Township.
That was caused by a mudslide and a downed power line.
Michigan State Police and the Quincy-Franklin-Hanock Fire Department were called to the scene, Weingarten said. The road was expected to be open later Wednesday morning.
Weingarten said there is believed to be no structural damage to the state roads.
“My understanding is it’s just dirt on the roadway and then this power line came down at the same location,” he said. “We just have to make sure it’s safe to travel, and the power line’s repaired.”
Motorists were being advised to drive cautiously, not just there but in other areas, particularly on U.S. 41 in Chassell Township and M-26 in the Mason-Tamarack City-Lake Linden area.
The steady rain has led to water over the road in several places, according to the Michigan State Police (MSP).
On U.S. 41 near Denton Road there was 6-12 inches of water over the road during the Wednesday commuting period, causing cars to stall and hydroplane if they hit the water at high speed.
Warning signs and equipment to clear the water from the road are on its way as of Wednesday morning according to MSP Sgt. Russ Larsen.
Water has also covered the road on M-26 near First Street in Lake Linden. Police radio reports indicated storm sewers had overflowed.
“Nothing has been rerouted yet,” Larsen said.
The MSP is also monitoring an overhanging tree on M-203 near Cemetery Road.
Flood waters were receding in Hubbell by 10 a.m., but water had crossed the highway at several spots, said Fire Chief Jeremy Dessellier.
He said issues had occurred on M-26 by 15th and 16th streets in Hubbell, and near the Drive-Thru Depot. Flooding had also cropped up on First Street in Lake Linden near the village park.
The department also placed sandbags at vulnerable areas near residents’ houses.
“Nothing too major, but enough to keep us busy,” he said. “We’ve been out since 6 a.m.”
Most storm drains in Hubbell are at maximum capacity, but there didn’t appear to be much structural damage, Dessellier said.