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Michigan Flooding Forces Scores to Flee Homes : Scores Flee Michigan Flooding; Oregon Braces as Ice Jam Grows

January 01, 1986|From Times Wire Services

Floodwater backed up by ice and wind kept scores of people out of their homes Tuesday in Michigan, and a 35-mile-long ice jam on Oregon's Snake River grew as high water forced at least one family to flee.

Michigan's Upper Peninsula was blasted with snow and subzero temperatures. Snow fell throughout the day, and areas along Lake Superior were expected to get another 4 to 8 inches by New Year's Day.

The St. Clair River receded slightly at Algonac, Mich., while National Guardsmen in Oregon stood by in case others had to flee along the Snake River, on the Oregon-Idaho border.

Improvement Noted

"It's better, much better. It even looked like the ice had lowered somewhat," said J. Robert Johnson, emergency services director for St. Clair County at Algonac.

However, the St. Clair was still at least several inches above flood stage all along its 25 miles, which serves as a busy Great Lakes shipping channel between lakes Huron and St. Clair, and water appeared to be rising upstream.

Algonac officials said about 125 residents of shore lowlands had fled to homes of friends and relatives. But Johnson said that it was impossible to get an accurate number because no official evacuation was ordered, and many people were coming and going from their homes.

"We don't know how many have returned to their homes. We do know some stayed," Johnson said. "One lady said yesterday that the water was running into her house because of the wind, and today it was running back out."

Water was up to 3 inches deep in some houses, he said, and a restaurant closed because of 2 feet of water inside. The city said about 160 houses had water in their yards or in crawl spaces and basements. No damage estimates were available.

Ninth Family Evacuated

At Ontario, Ore., the family evacuated Tuesday was the ninth since water backed up by the ice jam on the Snake began threatening lowlands during the weekend.

"We have eight more (families) on hold," Guard Capt. Theo Moore said. "They're not ready to move yet, but we're watching their situation closely."

By late morning Tuesday, the river was generally rising behind the ice jam, which extended from Farewell Bend, downstream from Ontario, to just upstream of Ontario.

"It's still growing," Moore said. "The way it's been acting, the jam has moved up river farther."

"We just have to try and guess what the river will do and wait for people to holler for help," he said.

Ontario is 50 to 60 miles downstream from Boise, Ida., which had three weeks of zero or below temperatures until Tuesday, when the low was 1 above zero.

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