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The original item was published from 2/7/2019 4:34:54 PM to 3/2/2019 12:00:02 AM.

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Emergency Management - Press Releases

Posted on: February 7, 2019

[ARCHIVED] UPDATE: Flooding along Saint Joseph River in Berrien County

This picture shows ice jamming up at M-139 Highway Bridge blocking flow to the Saint Joseph River.

2/7/2019 Update

SAINT JOSEPH, MI – Residents along the Saint Joseph River in Royalton Township are seeing some relief as flood waters receded late Wednesday evening and overnight. Some slight ponding on the roadways remain, but there has been a significant reduction of water from yards and along the river.

In the evening hours, ice collected along the M-139 Hwy bridge broke free and allowed the river to flow more normally. “Within a few hours, residents were reporting that they saw an 8 inch drop of pooled water from the roads and from the drainage ditches in several side yards,” said Capt. Rockey Adams, the Berrien County Emergency Management Coordinator.

Residents who need help recovering should call 2-1-1 for referrals to community resources and advice.

“We were happy to work with Township Officials during this incident and will continue discussions to identify possible options to lessen the impact of flooding” Adams added. “We were especially thankful for the community volunteers who answered the call to help fill and transport sandbags to residents.”

2/6/2019 Original:

SAINT JOSEPH, MI – Residents along the Saint Joseph River in the Royalton Township area have been experiencing flooding over the past few days. The area that is seeing significant flooding is along Derfla Drive. “The Saint Joseph River is flowing much slower than normal, causing backups, and slowing snow-melt drainage”, said Capt. Rockey Adams who is the Emergency Management Coordinator for Berrien County. “With additional rain in the forecast, we expect the river will continue to flood in this area for the next few days, unless the ice breaks free soon,” Adams added.

The Emergency Management Office has been communicating frequently with Township and State officials to do what is in their power to alleviate property damage. “Royalton Township worked with us to offer a sandbag program to those residents that are affected and the United Way of Southwest Michigan has been organizing volunteers to help fill bags for those needing some extra help.” “We are speaking with experts for advice on potential engineering solutions, but they may determine that Mother Nature may, unfortunately, have to run her course,” said Adams.

The waters may also continue to rise in neighboring communities. People are encouraged to report their flooding conditions to their local municipal office and the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana (visit to learn how to submit a report).

Currently, the road is closed to through traffic in Royalton Twp on Derfla Drive, Linden Drive, and Diller Road in Sodus Township. Travelers are asked not to drive through the flood waters and asked to avoid these areas. Township Officials and the Fire Department are monitoring these areas for public safety concerns, but if any resident believes their safety might be at risk, they should take appropriate action. The community should call 911 if there is an emergency. Residents are encouraged to call 2-1-1 if they are looking for assistance coping with damage.

The Berrien County Health Department is visiting residents whose wells are under water in Royalton Township and may need to take action to protect drinking water from contamination. If you are connected to a private well, and flood waters have ponded around your well, your drinking water supply may be impacted from infiltration of contaminants around your well casing. If you believe your well may have been impacted, contact Berrien County Health Department at (269) 926-7121 for information on testing your water supply for bacteriological contamination and additional advice.

The Emergency Management Office offers the following tips for flooding:

Injury Prevention: Stay out of flood waters. Even the strongest swimmers can drown in flood waters. Do not drive through standing water. Never make contact with power lines or objects that are in contact with power lines.

Sandbagging: Sandbags are generally available at many hardware stores and local excavation companies may offer service. Watch the Army Corp of Engineers video at on how to build a sandbag levee.

Insurance:  Check with your home owners insurance company prior to an event and see if your have proper coverage if your sump pump or storm sewer fails.

Pumps: Check your sump pump and make sure it is operational. If you can afford to do so, have a back-up sump pump ready to replace one that has failed.

Furnishings: Move what furniture and valuables you can to the highest floor of the house, or in single story Homes, raise them off of the ground as much as possible. Do this at the onset of a flood watch.

Evacuations: You may self-evacuate if you believe water levels are dangerous at any time. Evacuate to higher ground if a flood warning is issued. Follow your family evacuation plan while avoiding waterways at all costs.

Stay Informed: Continue to monitor weather forecasts for rain and snow at You can also find the river forecast center’s data for available gauges in the area. In times of ice jamming, these gauges may not reflect flooding conditions throughout the length of the river.


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