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Flood surrounds homes along Grand River, keep boaters out of the water

Emergency Management checks in often on the people who live on these flooded streets, who have had to come up with unique ways to get to their homes.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — Jim Ensing just wants to be on his boat this Memorial Day.

"It's frustrating," says Ensing, who lives in Grand Rapids. "Normally I'd be sitting on it, running down the river to the lake. But instead we're working on it."

He's kept his boat at River Haven Marina in Robinson Township for several years, but he's always been able to get into the water.

"The marina has flooded before but just up to the docks," he explains. "Not to where you can't even get in."

Ottawa County Emergency Management already had its emergency operations center for more than two months straight because of the pandemic.

"But then you throw in 11 inches of rain within a 12-day period," says Emergency Management Director Nick Bonstell. "And it causes a lot of havoc."

Bonstell checks in every so often on the people who live on these flooded streets, who have had to come up with unique ways to get to their homes.

"All the trucks and cars are up on a hill," Bonstell says. "And then they kayak into their homes during these times."

Also unique, Ensing regularly sees fish coming across the road now.

"One day there were about 15 swimming in front of me," says Ensing. "If they were salmon, I would have gotten my net."

Bonstell says once the water recedes, his office steps in to help.

"We hand out clean up kits with the American Red Cross so people can clean up any areas that may have been inundated," he explains.

Bonstell says the water is already receding, and he expects it to be back to normal sometime this week.

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