The Red Cedar River Is Flooding

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Gary Caldwell for ELi

On MSU's campus, you can currently kayak a lot closer to Sparty than usual.

The Red Cedar River is up over its banks in East Lansing. 

On Michigan State University’s campus, Sparty’s view has changed. Water has inundated the parking lot at IM West and the baseball stadium, and the river has been flowing into Beal Garden.

The baseball stadium on MSU’s campus is currently hosting the Red Cedar River. (Photo by Gary Caldwell for ELi)

In East Lansing, a portion of Kalamazoo Street has been closed because of flooding, and late last night officials also closed the northbound U.S. 127 exit to Kalamazoo Street “due to water over the roadway.”

Water is leaching out of the hill (a glacial moraine) on the north side of Valley Court Park, just below Oakhill Avenue, and the River Trail to Lansing now has many sections under water.

While the flooding is causing hardship to property owners and public land managers and requiring attention from East Lansing’s Department of Public Works, some readers have expressed to ELi that going down to see the flooding is at least a temporary cure to the cabin fever brought on by emergency response to the coronavirus. (The great weather today isn’t hurting either.)

That’s Spartan Stadium in the background. (Photo by Gary Caldwell for ELi)

According to the National Weather Service’s Advance Hydrologic Prediction Service, the river crested this morning at just under 2 feet above flood stage.

Graph from the National Weather Service

It is expected to descend steadily from now through the end of the week, but new areas of localized flooding are possible as water moves around unpredictably.

The last big flood of the Red Cedar River happened in February 2018. In years past, high water on the river has sometimes drawn surfers who ride the wave caused by the weir near the MSU Administration Building.  

The water is expected to go down steadily for the rest of the week. (Photo by Gary Caldwell for ELi)

At City Council last night, City Manager George Lahanas reminded people not to drive into standing water, and Director of Public Works Scott House said that his department was fielding calls from people with questions about storm water management. 

House also talked about new systems that East Lansing’s water treatment plant is having put into effect to avoid events like those in the past where flooding led to the release of contaminated water into the river.

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