Dangerous Metro Detroit shoreline flooding 'like a hurricane that happens in a two-month time frame'

Rising water, wind, rain creates serious problems for Metro Detroiters

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. – Experts say high water levels are creating disaster scenarios in several Metro Detroit communities, but residents aren't doing enough to prepare.

Rain, wind and snow are essentially creating a slow-moving hurricane that's heading in our direction, according to one expert.

The problem is high water along several Metro Detroit waterways, and the water is still rising.

Despite warnings, officials said many people aren't doing enough to prepare. This isn't a sudden weather event like the recent storms. It's slow-moving, and that might be why it hasn't gotten as much attention as needed, according to experts.

Local 4 medical expert Dr. Frank McGeorge is a homeowner who lives on Lake St. Clair. The weather this year is affecting him due to rising water, wind and rain. There are serious problems that haven't been seen in more than 30 years, he said.

"It's like a hurricane that happens in a two-month time frame," said Artie Bryson, the supervisor for Clay Township. "The water levels in the river's gone up about 12, 14 inches in the past three weeks. You know we're preparing for the worst and praying for the best."

The situation is the same along any shoreline associated with Lake St. Clair or associated rivers.

"This is the worst year they've had in St. Clair Shores since the late '80s, second to none," said Mike Smith, city manager for St. Clair Shores. "The estimate as of this week is they're anticipating before the end of July, the lake levels will come up an additional 8 inches."

Water is already near the top of many seawalls. Eight more inches of water can spell disaster.

"We have about six, seven roads in the township that have water over them as we speak, and it could get worse," Bryson said.

Anyone on the water who hasn't started sandbagging should be better prepared, officials said.

"If you're on a canal today in St. Clair Shores, you need to be 18 inches above the current water level, is what we're telling people where they should be," Smith said. "So get 18 inches above your current water level. If you're on the lake, a minimum of 3 feet. Again, that's because when you have those waves coming in."

Several years of lake level increases have been adding up. In addition to snowmelt and rain, this year residents can also expect to hear a lot about wind.

"It affects us when we have a wind blowing out of the south, southwest, especially for something more than 12 hours," Bryson said. "It pushes the water over to our side of the lake."

"These east winds -- which have been blowing much stronger for us -- when we have a wind event, it could go up another 10 inches or more, fast," Smith said.

It affects people who live on the water and visitors who use the water. Many boaters don't realize that for boats under 26 feet long, there is now a wake zone extending 200 feet from the shore. If they're more than 26 feet long, the no-wake area extends 600 feet from the shore and docks. This year, more aggressive enforcement is expected.

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