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BRIDGETON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZZM) -- People who live along the Muskegon River in Newaygo County are used to springtime flooding, but not like the water rise seen Monday, which could be the worst flooding in nearly three decades.

Newaygo County Emergency Management is advising people living along the Muskegon River, downstream of Croton, to prepare to evacuate immediately.

River stages are approaching 12 feet and will be cresting over 13 feet. Flood stage is nine feet. Officials say they expect to keep the flood warning in effect into next week.

Monday morning, the gauge at Croton was at 11.75 feet, which is higher than any levels seen last year.

Gary Mahoney has lived along the Muskegon River for six years and this is his third flood. Mahoney didn't leave then last spring when the river swelled, reaching his deck. But this year, he's not so sure.

"If water starts coming up, we keep putting things up as we have to-- pick it up. When it comes over the floors, we'll have to leave."

Several of Mahoney's neighbors chose higher ground and moved their RVs to a neighbor's house at the end of the road. Mahoney says when you live on the river, you should expect events like this. He's preparing for the worst, but sticking around and hoping for the best.

The Red Cross of West Michigan is opening a shelter in Newaygo County for those affected by flooding. The shelter at the Resonant Church, is located at 302 E. 68th Street. Door opened at 5 p.m. Monday. Meals and snacks will be provided, courtesy of the Salvation Army.

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