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Neighbors help protect elderly couple's home from Grand River flooding

Neighbors and other community members shoveled sand, tied the bags, loaded them into wheelbarrows and wheeled the bags around to the back of the house.
Credit: Grand Haven Tribune
Brian Snoeyer, front, and Greg Walker piled sandbags in front of a walkout basement on a Boelens Court home in Spring Lake on Thursday, April 30.

SPRING LAKE, Mich. — (Grand Haven Tribune) - Neighbors answered a social media plea and showed up Thursday morning to help keep the Grand River at bay from an elderly couple’s Spring Lake home.

“I really am grateful,” said Bernie Snoeyer as he watched a crew of mask-clad workers shovel sand into bags from a large pile in his driveway. “People showed up. It’s a great feeling.”

Neighbors and other community members shoveled sand, tied the bags, loaded them into wheelbarrows and wheeled the bags around to the back of Snoeyer’s house. His son, Brian, coordinated the piling of the bags, while his wife, Corrie, swept away water and removed it with a shop vac.

“We were prepared for it,” Corrie said. “We have cement floors, but there’s still this much water inside there,” indicating a depth of about 3 inches with her fingers.

Credit: Grand Haven Tribune

The Snoeyers say they have been through this before when an ice jam in the river caused a sudden rise of water. The community responded to help that time, too, Bernie said.

Neighbor Jim McGregor, 87, watched the activity, noting that he has been fighting water in his basement since the fall.

“My sump pump runs 24/7,” he said. “My last light bill was over $260.”

McGregor pointed to a hose running from his house on the north side of the road into the street.

“That’s been running all winter,” he said as a full stream of water continued to pour over the curb.

Village Manager Chris Burns said she put out a plea for help after the Snoeyers showed up at her front door the night before in desperation. Burns was on site Thursday morning – shoveling sand, and opening and tying bags.

“You can’t say no to that,” she said.

Credit: Grand Haven Tribune

Sandbags are available from the Spring Lake Fire Department by calling 616-215-1590.

“We’ll get them sandbags in a safe, socially distant manner,” Fire Chief Brian Sipe said.

About 2,000 sandbags had been handed out so far this spring, Sipe estimated.

Sipe said it looked like the worst of the rise from rainfall during the last of couple days was over, but officials would continue to monitor areas prone to flooding. Officials have predicted the water level in the area lakes and rivers to continue to rise through July.

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