April 29, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 100

Grand Rapids was 3-4 inches of rain from disaster

GRAND RAPIDS (AP) — The swollen Grand River came uncomfortably close to breaching its flood walls and causing disastrous flooding in Grand Rapids earlier this month, a National Weather Service hydrologist said.

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Associated Press
A duck swims a window, viewed from inside Anderson Eye Care at the Riverfront Plaza Building in downtown Grand Rapids as The Grand River crests on Monday, April 22, 2013, at an all time high of 21.85 feet, a full 2.2 feet above the record set in 1985, in downtown Grand Rapids. Previous water levels can be seen marked on the wall.

Flooding forced an estimated 1,700 people from the Grand Rapids area to head to higher ground.

With the river already rising, an April 19 storm was forecast to dump 1 to 2 inches of rain, but only about one-third of an inch materialized.

An extra 3 to 4 inches of rain likely would have been enough to bring the water up against the bottoms of downtown bridges and force it up against...