THE WIND-UP

Floodwaters impact SJHS students and teachers

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Kaila Nichols, News Editor

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During the week of February 19, several homes, parks and neighborhoods in Berrien County were affected by floods. A number of rivers including the St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, and Paw Paw Rivers flooded. People were told to evacuate their homes while members of the US Coast Guard spent the morning of February 22 on boats searching for those who may be stranded. Reports state that the St. Joseph River was close to 16.47 feet that Wednesday. Among certain places flooded was the Berrien Hills Golf Course. According to ABC 57 News, the cost from flood damage is estimated to be $6 million. Robert Boyce, the chief deputy at the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, told the press, “To my knowledge, this is the most serious flooding issue that Berrien County has ever experienced.”

On March 12, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster in 17 Michigan counties including Allegan, Arenac, Barry, Berrien, Cass, Clare, Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Kent, Mecosta, Newaygo, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Ottawa, St. Joseph and the cities of Grand Rapids and Lansing. The Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund was made open to these counties

The floods’ impact reached many areas including Berrien County and Indiana. Even some students and faculty here at SJHS were affected by the flooding. “We’ve seen lots of rain before and we know our house is above the 100 year flood mark, but we didn’t know that this was going to be a 500 year flood and I woke up Thursday morning at about 3:30 am and realized at that point that I wasn’t going to get my car out because the roads were flooded and there was more rain coming and I called for a sub that day,” Mrs. Gail Wadel, a math teacher at SJHS, said.

A 100 year flood is one that only occurs every 100 years, while 500 year floods happen every 500 years. This outcome shows how peculiar these floods were. According to Mrs. Wadel, she hasn’t seen any flooding quite like this one in the time she has lived here. “Never like this. We have a sidewalk that goes around our house that was totally under water.”

Compared to her neighbors, however, Mrs. Wadel was lucky. When people had to evacuate, they cut the power to ensure safety in case electrical current would be underground. Because of this, people came home to flooded basements, lost water heaters, and lost belongings.

“We were very fortunate. In fact, I would say, for sure, divinely protected. We didn’t have a drop of water even in our basement. Our sump pump kept running because we were able to hook it up to a generator which was God’s timing too.”

“I wasn’t at my house when it flooded, but my parents were so they were texting me and sending me pictures,” Olivia McQueen, an SJHS junior said. McQueen’s basement was covered in almost 4 feet of water.

“The roads were so flooded we could only leave by boat,” McQueen added. The Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund allows local governments to apply to receive reimbursements for costs up to $100,000. Even with this fund, there will be lots of cleaning up families will have to do. Several flood relief efforts have started since the floods. One is Team Rubicon, which seeks to help conduct assessments and debris removal. According to WSJM, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department is asking those affected to turn in damage assessment forms.

 

Drone Footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyQPEETFqPw

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Floodwaters impact SJHS students and teachers