The Rapidian

Grand River floods to record heights, held back by flood walls downtown

The flood walls, built in 1911, held back record floodwaters this April.
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Flood wall construction in 1911

Flood wall construction in 1911 /courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Library Archives

Flood wall construction in 1911. Reportedly, the tunnel at the bottom of the wall was filled with sand to reinforce it.

Flood wall construction in 1911. Reportedly, the tunnel at the bottom of the wall was filled with sand to reinforce it. /courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Library Archives

Flood wall construction in 1911 followed the famed flood of 1904

Flood wall construction in 1911 followed the famed flood of 1904 /courtesy of Grand Rapids Public Library Archives

The month of April proved to be one of the rainiest seasons on record for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. A total of almost 11 inches of rain fell, making it the third wettest month in recorded history. The Grand River was one of the most challenging areas as the water rose way above the norm.

The historical photos show construction of the flood wall that was built in 1911. These photos, showing the scale of the construction, are courtesy of the Grand Rapids History & Special Collections archives at the Grand Rapids Public Library.

As the State of Emergency was declared by the City's Mayor George Heartwell, numerous things began to take place. People and businesses took precautions to protect buildings and important areas around the river flood. The video shows you just how much rain made its way to the Grand River, causing it to flood as high as it did. The video and the photo collection here also show what actions were taken by several places to protect themselves from the flood waters. Photos were taken on April 19 and 22.

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