By Kasey Worst
Old Town Lansing Times staff writer
OLD TOWN LANSING – As winter winds down and snow begins to melt, flooding along the Grand River may become an issue for Old Town.
Potential to flood
Ronda Oberlin, emergency management specialist for the Lansing Office of Emergency Management, said the large amount of snow that built up over the winter makes the potential for a flood in the spring higher than it has been for quite a while. She also said the Grand River, which runs through Old Town, can flood very early in the spring.
“We don’t know when the next melt is gonna happen,” Oberlin said. “And that’s when we’re gonna have problems–when the snow starts to melt. If it melts nice and slow than it won’t be as big of a problem as if it melts really quickly.”
Additionally, Oberlin said the City of Lansing cannot do much to prevent flooding. They mostly work to protect critical facilities and prepare volunteers for flood assistance.
“Most of the preparedness has to be done by the people who live along the river and work along the river,” Oberlin said.
Oberlin also stressed the importance of flood insurance for homes and businesses in and around flood plains.
“You know there is a 30–day waiting period for flood insurance, so if you don’t have it already it’s a close call to see if you’ll get it if we have a flood this spring,” Oberlin said.
According to Oberlin basements in the Old Town area can begin to flood in less than a five–year flood.
The North Lansing Dam
Stephen Serkaian, director of communications for the Lansing Board of Water and Light, said that although the North Lansing Dam in Old Town raises the height of the Grand River about a foot above its natural state, it does not increase the flood risk of the area.
“The water would simply flow over the dam, which it does now,” Serkaian said.
Some businesses in Old Town have not had a lot of experience dealing with floods. Mary Swan, an intern at Pace Howe Design in Old Town, said she did not think flooding would impact the business.
“We’re pretty high up on this side, so we haven’t had any issues here that I’m aware of,” Swan said.
It is worth noting that Louise Gradwohl, executive director of the Old Town Commercial Association, said the OTCA does not have any flood plan in place. However, she encourages businesses in Old Town to check their basements for leaks and move merchandise and supplies that could become damaged in a flood.
“The last thing they wanna do is worry about having to lose hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise because of a flood,” Gradwohl said.
Ronda Oberlin also said that anyone wanting more information about flooding can contact her office.
To contact Kasey Worst, please send an email to
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call her at 517-227-0129.