DUNDEE, Mich. — The rain-swollen River Raisin slowly fell Friday after cresting overnight, and with that retreat came hope that the only bridge linking the two sides of Dundee would reopen sometime Saturday.
Police Chief David Uhl said that after being told initially the bridge might stay closed to traffic until early next week, giving divers time to do an underwater inspection, he learned during a meeting late Friday with Michigan Department of Transportation officials that reopening would be allowed as soon as water no longer touches the bridge superstructure’s sides.
“I’m guessing tomorrow sometime,” the police chief, clearly elated by the news, said after the meeting.
“Saturday is our best guess right now,” said Kari Arend, an MDOT spokesman. “We’re trying to get it open as quickly as possible. But it all depends on water levels.”
As of noon Friday, the River Raisin was at 651.4 feet above sea level in Dundee, down from a predawn crest of 652 feet, and 1.4 feet above flood stage. The National Weather Service office in White Lake, Mich., predicted the river would recede below flood stage by Saturday afternoon.
Chief Uhl said 20 houses and five businesses remained flooded by the river Friday. The flooding could have been worse, he added, had the river not crested eight hours sooner than expected.
Dundee schools were closed Friday because of the bridge’s closing. Chief Uhl said that and publicity about M-50 being shut down kept traffic-control problems in the village to a minimum Friday.
“Pretty much everybody knows not to come now,” he said. Signs on nearby U.S. 23 warned motorists to use Ida West Road instead.
Upstream in Blissfield, the Raisin was 1.2 feet above flood stage and falling as of late Friday. The U.S. 223 bridge there reopened Friday morning after being closed because of the high water.
And downstream in Monroe, the river was just more than a foot above its flood stage of 9 feet, which at that location is measured against river depth, not sea level. The Raisin is expected to remain out of its banks at Monroe until Sunday afternoon.
Monroe police Sgt. Richard Ohanesian said the Raisin flooding’s main impact in that city was to close North Custer Road at Telegraph Road. North Custer passes under Telegraph right along the river and is particularly low at that spot.
Otherwise, the sergeant said, the river was causing some basement flooding and inundating low-lying land. Monroe has had much worse flooding in recent years from ice jams, he said.
Dry weather for a third-straight day after the heavy rain that induced the flooding allowed many northwest Ohio rivers to continue receding Friday, too.
By afternoon, all major highways in the region had reopened, with U.S. 20A west of Burlington, Ohio — blocked by the Tiffin River — the last to be cleared. Among rural Lucas County roads closed by high water, only Irwin Road between Bancroft and Dorr streets was blocked Friday night, although high-water warnings were posted for two other roads.
Flood warnings remained in effect for the Tiffin, Maumee, St. Joseph, Auglaize, and Blanchard rivers.
While upstream locations along the Maumee were falling, the river was still rising Friday at Waterville, with no crest predicted. The Maumee was 2.9 feet above its 9-foot flood stage there late Friday; at 12 feet, the river causes basement flooding in Waterville and reaches Sidecut Metropark.
Rain is expected to return to northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan early Sunday morning. While not expected to be heavy, the National Weather Service said the rain could exacerbate the region’s flooding, especially downstream of areas in Williams County, Hillsdale County, and northeast Indiana that received between 4 and 10 inches of snow Tuesday from the storm, some of which remained on the ground Friday.