Saginaw and Bay counties could expect flooding due to rising water levels in Lake Huron, public officials said, according to MLive.
A map showing the projected areas to be affected if the water levels rise was released Feb.20 by commissioners in Saginaw, Bay and Tuscola counties.
Saginaw Bay water levels are expected to rise up to 11 inches higher during summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told MLive. If water levels rise a certain amount, the map shows which properties in the counties would be below the Bay's water level.
Areas along the Saginaw River could potentially go underwater, which includes the southwest area of the city. Other areas on the Saginaw Bay shoreline are also subject to flooding.
Bay County Drain Commissioner Joseph Rivet said in the map release that the worst case scenario would be if drain systems were overwhelmed with flooding. If this happens, areas that typically never see flooding may be flooded.
The map is color-coded to show different flooding scenarios. Light blue shows what is most likely to happen in the event of flooding. Darker colors show what would happen as the water levels increase, Saginaw County Public Works Commissioner Brian Wendling told MLive.
“At this point in time, based on their predictions, we’re expecting to see that,” Wendling said about the light blue areas. “We’re just trying to get the word out, make people aware."
The map doesn't show the flood control in every area, but the existing protections weren't meant to protect against the amount of flooding expected, Wendling said. Many flood protections are expected to be damaged.
“What we’re finding out there now is a lot of these dikes that were put there many years ago are holding water on a full-time basis,” Wendling said in an interview with Michigan Live. “Unfortunately, it’s starting to weaken them.”
Saginaw Bay is at the highest water levels it has ever seen, which suggest even higher levels to come, Wendling told MLive. “This is the highest the water levels have been since 1986. Knock on wood we won’t have a lot of snow we’re going to contend with," he said.
For those in or around the projected areas to be affected, it's important to know how to prepare homes for flooding, Wendling suggested. There's the possibility of damage to the structure of houses.
Moving items to higher areas of the home is also suggested. “We’re not trying to scare anybody; we’re trying to raise awareness,” Wendling added to MLive.