ALPENA - Dozens of Alpena homeowners were affected by flooding as an accumulation of snow melt and rain poured into their backyards and basements Tuesday. Some of the worst occurred downhill from the Alpena Golf Course, where the fairways appeared to be hemorrhaging with water.
Making problems worse is that a sewage lift station in the 300 block of Princeton Street was being overtaxed by basement sump pumps, and could cause a backup or spill if it fails, one official said.
Property owners, who were outside coping with the disaster, said the area has been hit by flooding multiple times - as recently as 2011 - and the issue is getting worse.
News Photo by Betsy Lehndorff
Flood waters turned a vacant lot on Sunset Boulevard into a small pond, complete with ducks, as frustrated residents pumped out basements and crawl spaces in freezing weather.
"If they would have opened up the Ninth Avenue dam, it would have alleviated part of this problem, and they knew two days ago that this was coming," said Merl Faucette, who lives at1293 Golf Course Road.
Faucette said several of his neighbors were trying to cope with flooded basements. And as the temperature hovered around 24 degrees, furnaces became water logged, leaving homeowners without heat.
Faucette blamed the flooding on water coming from behind Truckey, Haken and Boilore roads. Other residents pointed the finger at French, Webster and Genshaw roads.
In the 3000 block of Genshaw, the ditch was filled to capacity with icy water.
"We went through all of this three years ago, and it all came down to how nobody wanted to do anything," Faucette said. "It all fell back on the homeowner."
Faucette said approximately 42 homes have been affected.
However, there is little to no insurance to cover the damage because the homes are not in a designated flood zone, he said.
Another area impacted by the runoff was bounded north and south by Partridge and Princeton avenues, with St. Onge and Glendale streets east and west. On Sunset Boulevard, Darrel Milligan was using two pumps to clear 2 1/2 feet of water from his crawl space. Elsewhere, the flood covered his back yard, making his residence look like lake front property.
Water also flowed across the street and turned a vacant lot into a pond, complete with ducks.
A resident for over 16 years, Milligan said his property has flooded three times since he bought it.
"I'm lucky. It's just my crawl space," said Milligan, who kept pumps running all night.
Jerry Bleau, director of the Alpena Township Department of Public Works, said he is monitoring the sewer system around the clock, noting the last time the area flooded was in 2011, and cost $40,000 to $50,000 to prevent a sewage spill.
Some water seeped through manhole covers. But Bleau blamed a bulk of the sewer issues on people, who still have sump pumps hooked up to their sewer lines instead of draining into ditches.
He said residents were told several years ago to modify their systems.
The subdivision lift station has a 750-gallon capacity for raw sewage, with a 12-inch feed line coming in and a 6-inch discharge going out.
If the lift station falters, Bleau said he will have to add additional pumps or hire sanitation companies to pump out the holding tank to prevent a spill or sewer line backups.
At the Alpena Road Commission, officials said some residents who are not in the flood's path were pumping out their basements and crawl spaces.
Superintendent Curt Gonyea said two roads were still closed at 3 p.m. Tuesday due to flooding and water was running over the top of three other roads.
"We think the flood has crested and we've opened some roads back up," he said. "Hopefully by tomorrow we can open all the roads back up."
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.