Free sandbags were available for pick-up in Grand Haven Township Friday afternoon. (April 19, 2013)
GRAND HAVEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- Concerns are growing by the minute in Ottawa County, along with the rising waters of the Grand River. The county is distributing 17,000 sandbags and many people have already taken advantage.
Chuck Larsen's backyard has become a battleground between him and nature. "Hopefully we can last out the crest and won't get flooded out," says Larsen as he places sandbags on the ground.
Larsen is one of several residents that WZZM 13 found picking up sandbags at the Grand Haven Township Fire Department.
"Water's coming up fast," said one man collecting free sandbags.
The fire department is just one hub in charge of distributing some of the county's 17,000 sandbags. They're going to other local governments and residents in need.
"We've delivered 2,500 just today and several hundred yesterday as well," says Tom Gerencer, Grand Haven Township Fire Chief.
The amount of flooding in the area is so unusual, many residents have never used sandbags. "It never even approached needing them," says one man.
"The township gives instructions on how to weave the plastic through your sandbags," says George Swiatlowski, who was picking up sandbags.
"I had to read the instructions myself, it's something we've never had to do in Grand Haven Township," says Chief Gerencer.
Others are ditching the sandbag idea altogether. "It's a lot of time and cost to do it and it's just easier to evacuate," one resident said.
However, for Larsen, it's worth all the work. "For the sake of the house, it's pretty important."
Ottawa County leaders say if residents need sandbags, they should call their local township or city office. There is no charge for the sandbags, but officials remind people that they must be used for flood prevention, not to dam streams or rivers.