New flood warning system for Lansing-area

Posted at 10:31 AM, Oct 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-28 08:48:11-04

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero is announcing a  new flood warning system for the metro Lansing-area Thursday.

Imagine being able to get an advanced warning before flood waters take over your neighborhood. Lansing residents now have that thanks to a new interactive map made available by a partnership between the city and the U.S. Geological Survey.

It’s been quite some time since either of Lansing’s three rivers flooded, since 1975 to be exact.

“We have a really complex river system and this really solves the problem for us,” said Ronda Oberlin from the Lansing Office of Emergency Management.

“FIM” (Flood Inundation Mapper) is a new online mapping system which will show you, based on cresting predictions from the National Weather Service (NWS), which neighborhoods will flood and how week it could get down to the street level.

All you have to do is plug in the NWS forecast.

“We really couldn't tell Potter Park or the Lansing Board of Water and Light what the flood level would be at their site,” said Oberlin. “We couldn't tell the residents of Urbandale or Baker Danora or anywhere else that's in the flood plain what they could expect and we can do that now.”


The project is aimed at giving you an opportunity to get valuables out of the house ahead of time preventing thousands of dollars in damage.

“If I told you with a reasonable degree of certainty that this time tomorrow you're going to have 18 inches in your living room, just imagine what you could save,” said U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologist Matt Whitehead. “You could get your car out of the garage at least.”

If you're thinking this could change your flood insurance, think again. This new data won't change existing insurance maps, at least not yet.

“It does show that there is some change in our flood plain and we are going to address that with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and try to get our maps adjusted to match what the new data says,” said Oberlin.

After three years in the making, emergency officials hope this new online tool will now give you a one up against good ol' Mother Nature.

“I can't wait to get input from people to see if it works for them but really be able to communicate accurate risk to people is really exciting for us,” said Oberlin.

The total cost of the project was $274,000.

Some of the money came from Ingham County, Delhi Township, Michigan State University, and the Lansing Board of Water and Light sponsored the project.

Funding from the project also put the Sycamore Creek river gauge back online. A lack of funding shut the gauge down.