Kalamazoo River crests in Comstock, residents ready for water to go down

Proctor Ave River Flooding, Comstock.jpg
One homeowner's back yard was practically nonexistent due to flooding along the Kalamazoo River in Comstock. Taken behind a residence on Proctor Avenue, the person who lives here says it's looked like this for a couple days. (WWMT/Will Haenni)

Fire pits and docks along the Kalamazoo River in Comstock were underwater the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.

"We were going to, you know, maybe grill a bit, socially distance fire, you know. But now those plans have been scrapped," Micah Sage, who owns a home along Proctor Avenue in Comstock, said.

Proctor Avenue sits on the north side of the Kalamazoo River, about one quarter mile upstream of Merrill Park, which has been inundated with water for several days. Water had made it about 10 feet from the edge of Sage's deck, but aside from some water making it into his shed, his home remained largely unaffected by the high water.

"I woke up, went into my office, and looked out the window and I couldn't see the yard anymore," Sage said.

Even though Sage has only owned this home for a little over a year, he's already seen the river swell beyond its banks two other times: once in the summer of 2019, and the second time this past January when an ice jam caused flooding.

"It never got up this high, so this was a little concerning at first and hopefully it doesn't raise any higher," Sage said. "Water might not get into my house, but I do worry about my neighbors."

Before moving in, the previous owners told him water just barely made it up to the edge of the house during historic flooding in February 2018.

A neighbor walked by and said of the 30 years she's lived on Proctor Avenue, it seemed flooding had become an almost yearly occurrence in the last decade. Another homeowner said he's ready for the water to go down because he's tired of seeing a bunch of snakes make new residence along the water's edge, now much closer to his home.

According to river gauge data provided by the National Weather Service, the Kalamazoo River gauge at Comstock saw a crest of 9.34 feet early Friday, May 22, 2020. This is considered minor flood stage. The river has only made it over 9 feet 12 other times, with records going back through the 1930s.

Forecasts as of Friday afternoon showed the water levels remaining fairly steady through early Saturday before gradually falling in the coming days. While the Kalamazoo River was expected to fall below flood stage Saturday afternoon, a Flood Warning remained in effect through early Sunday morning.

Several other rivers in West Michigan were also dealing with flooding. The Grand River at Comstock Park, north of Grand Rapids, saw major flooding with a crest of 16.4 feet.

Check the Newschannel 3 weather page for the latest information.

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