May 11, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 111

Local officials monitoring flood stage

With wet weather and cooler temperatures expected to hit the area over the weekend, flood watch continues to take place in both Gogebic and Iron counties.

Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe
Superior Falls near the mouth of the Montreal River at Lake Superior are powered by spring’s high water levels on Friday.

According to the National Weather Service in Marquette, today's forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of rain and snow showers, with highs in lower 40s. Temperatures are expected to stay cool throughout the weekend, with a 20 percent chance of rain and snow showers on Sunday morning.

According to a spokesman at NWS, the snow showers will stay inland, but the snow should melt on contact with the ground.

Temperatures are expected to increase on Monday and Tuesday, with highs around 57 degrees on Monday, and 74 on Tuesday. Tuesday will also have a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout the day.

Because of the wet wether, local agencies are continuing to monitor water levels in both Iron and Gogebic counties in fear of floods starting again.

According to Iron County Emergency Management director Stacy Ofstad, the east branch of the Montreal River between Hurley and Ironwood doesn't seem to be presenting any problems, but the west branch holds a potential for flooding.

"The west branch out of the Gile Flowage is posing a potential for flooding for local residents because the flowage is at full capacity and Xcel Energy is releasing water from the dam," Ofstad said. "I have been in contact with Xcel and they have been working with us to alleviate the situation as much as possible."

In Gogebic County, Emergency Management director Jim Loeper is continuing to monitor water levels in Wakefield and Marenisco Township, as well as working on damage assessments throughout the county.

"We are working with the state of Michigan and FEMA on damage assessments throughout the county to get those numbers organized now," Loeper said.

If the weather cooperates, Loeper said that sandbags could be removed this upcoming week, but they are still currently on standby at Sunday Lake in Wakefield.

"With Thursday's rain, the lake rose a tad," Loeper said. "It has since receded, but we are still on stand-by. We still have the pumps at the Sunday Lake spill way, but I don't expect us to have to use them."

After major flooding throughout both counties last week, both Ofstad and Loeper are continuing to assess the damage that was caused, including damage to roads and other locations.

"I don't project any major road flooding to continue, because the snow pack has melted," Ofstad said. "The only issue that I foresee right now is the potential flooding of the west branch."

According to Loeper, there is a lot of damage to roads, and even damage to dams.

"In Marenisco Township, one of the doors on the dam on the Presque Isle River broke," Loeper said. "We are working with the DNR to get that fixed, and there is no danger."

Despite everything, things could have been much worse, according to Loeper.

"It was a bad situation, but it wasn't as bad as 2002," Loeper said. "Things seem to be getting back to normal, and we are repairing culverts and roads. Everything seems to be okay right now."

For more information, call Loeper at 906-667-1118 or Ofstad at 715-561-3266.