St. Joseph River under flood warning ‘until further notice’

River to crest Wednesday, TRFD monitoring situation

THREE RIVERS — With the heavy rains hitting St. Joseph County over the weekend, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a flood warning for the St. Joseph River at Three Rivers “until further notice.”
According to NWS, at 9 a.m. Monday, the St. Joseph River was at 7.9 feet and rising, putting the river in the “minor” flooding category. The river is forecasted to crest at 8.7 feet Wednesday, Jan. 15 around 1 p.m., and not return under 7 feet until Monday evening, Jan. 20, at the earliest, based on hydrographs from the NWS office in northern Indiana.
Three Rivers Fire Department Chief Jeff Bloomfield said the department is monitoring the situation, and doesn’t expect any major flooding to occur in the city.
“We might see Scidmore [Park] receive a little bit of water, and maybe River Street might see a little bit of water, but all in all, we’re not at the point where we’re worried yet,” Bloomfield said. “We’re going to be closely monitoring it to see where the water level goes. If it starts to rise to where we’re nervous, then we’re going to act on it.”
Even though some parts of Scidmore Park are waterlogged, Bloomfield said there are no plans currently to move the animals in the Scidmore Park petting zoo, and it will not be affected, because they are higher up from the bank. He added they are working with the Three Rivers Department of Public Services to barricade any roads if need be.
Over at the Three Rivers Dam, Bloomfield said they lowered a gate Monday morning, putting the dam at “five and a half” gates open right now, which he called “pretty typical for this time of year.” Dam Operator Rick Clements said Monday the dam is in good shape.
“We have a six-inch water window, and we’re right dead-center in the middle right now,” Clements said. “The dam’s perfect, and we should be fine by Wednesday.”
Bloomfield said people need to be cautious around areas where flooding has occurred, especially in low-lying areas of the city.
“If you see standing water in a flood zone, do not attempt to drive or walk through it,” Bloomfield said. “Cars can get stuck in the flood water, and you can lose track of where the road is, and you don’t know which direction you’re going in.”
In addition, the NWS also advises parents to not let children play near flood waters.
Overall, Bloomfield said the department is seeing some positives in the upcoming forecast.
“It’s nice to see the crest drop under 9 feet, so that makes it easy,” Bloomfield said. “We’re going to closely monitor it and pray for some dry weather.”
Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 23 or robert@threeriversnews.com.

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