Government and Real Estate

Kent County public properties weather flood

April 23, 2013
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Kent County public properties weather flooding
The Grand River rose to flood levels downtown after record-setting rains this spring. Photo by Mike Nichols

Damage from the Grand River flooding to publicly owned properties appears to be minimal at this point in time, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

“Right now, it doesn’t look like that much damage,” said County Undersheriff Jon Hess.

But Hess said more damage information will be known once the river recedes to its normal level, which is expected to happen on Thursday.

Public flood costs

Hess also said the flood activity cost to the Sheriff’s Department is minimal.

Other than a few hours of overtime for some of the deputies, he said most of the department’s efforts were done during regular hours, and inmates at the Kent County Corrections Center helped fill sandbags.

The Sherriff’s Department and Plainfield Township Fire Department also made one boat rescue in Comstock Park over the weekend.

Hess said he didn’t have an overall price tag yet for the department’s activities, but added he didn’t expect it to be a very large one, once everything is totaled.

County Administrator and Controller Daryl Delabbio told the Business Journal that the county hasn’t compiled a cost figure yet, but he said he expected to have one next week.

Property damage and insurance coverage

The County Bureau of Equalization is reportedly assessing all the property damage from the weekend’s flooding, and it’s uncertain how long the assessment will take.

Whatever commercial and residential damage is assessed, it’s likely that most property owners won’t have it covered by their insurance policies.

County Commission Chairman Dan Koorndyk has been a State Farm Insurance agent for three decades, and he said flooding is excluded from insurance policies.

Koorndyk said what property owners can do is file a damage claim with their city or township, and those officials will decide whether some reimbursement is warranted.

But he also said property owners who had a sump pump fail during the flooding should contact their insurance agent.

The only way a property owner can get flood insurance is through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its National Flood Insurance Program.

“It’s quite expensive, and most people don’t take it,” Koorndyk said.

Perhaps, the most costly damage that will come from the flooding will be of an environmental nature. Reports indicate that hundreds of millions of gallons of partially treated human waste has flowed into Lake Michigan.

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