West Michigan's Grand River Runneth Over, After Years of Drought

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West Michigan's Grand River Runneth Over, After Years of Drought
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East End Park, Grand Have, Mich., on the Grand River. April 23, 2013

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- Spring 2013 has been a game-changer for West Michigan so far.

Rain is deluging our parched region, particularly along the Grand River, from Grand Rapids to her mouth in Grand Haven. On Sunday night, the Grand crested at 22 feet (4 feet above flood level), says NewsChannel 3. The National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration says we'll see more rain. Flood alerts remain.

Last year's drought and many dry years have diminished Grand River water levels and reconfigured the landscape. Areas along and even in the river are so dry that "islands" appeared and spread. Meadows and woods grew where water once was.

MLive says the Grand's bed was so dry that, in December, long-buried shipwrecks started to show themselves. I photographed Grand Haven's 125-year old Aurora. Originally anchored in the water, most of her hull lies under what's now forest. And you can see how low the river was last year.

But Mother Nature has other plans this year. The Grand is now busting out of her too-tight bed. Riverbank trees now stand like cypress in a Louisiana swamp. New shoots of meadow grass sit under two to three feet of water. We who live along the river are preparing for soggy basements. Even fields that aren't near the river now sport little lakes. Perhaps our river is finally making a comeback.

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