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Cloverdale Lake resident Robert Crossman fishes off his back porch

Cloverdale Lake resident Robert Crossman fishes off his back porch as the water continues to rise. (Photo by Luke Froncheck) Residents say the culvert beneath Guernsey Lake, shown here, is obstructed, which has an impact on the lake level. (Photo by Luke Froncheck) Water is creeping closer to the residence of Cloverdale Lake resident Jim Farrah. (Photo by Luke Froncheck)

The North Charlton Road bridge over the Little Thornapple River is closed. The river is overflowing its banks upstream from the bridge. There is some damage to the pavement at the intake of the culvert that goes under the road. (Photo by Scott Harmsen)

On the verge of submersion Pumps and prayers sustain Cloverdale Lake residents toughing it out Luke Froncheck  Contributing Writer

Cloverdale Lake is 6 feet closer to his house, lake resident Jim Farrah said.

Meanwhile, Crooked Lake is more 5.1 feet above its established level, Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said. At the current 927.8 feet, the lake is at its highest level yet since flooding in the Delton area was deemed a crisis about a year ago.

Three roads in that area are covered by water, with many more on the verge of submersion as water levels continue to rise:

East Shore Drive along Crooked Lake is covered by eight inches of water; Hughes Road near Crooked Lake is water-covered; and M-43 near Cloverdale Lake is under water and closed in the affected area.

With no long-term solution in sight, residents are turning to store-bought pumps and prayers.

“It’s really up to God,” Cloverdale Lake resident Robert Crossman said. “He’s the one that brought us all the water through the rain, and He’s going to have to be the one to take it away.”

Crossman estimated he’s about 11 inches from needing to start putting sandbags in place to protect his house.

The high-water level on Cloverdale Lake has already made one house inhabitable, and many more are facing a similar fate.

Jim Farrah, who has lived on Cloverdale Lake for 40 years, said this is the highest water level he's seen.

“The only outlet for our lake is a 10-inch plugged pipe on the north end of the lake,” Farrah said. “They need to clean that culvert out.”

Dull said the culvert below Guernsey Lake Road is too small and needs to be replaced before Cloverdale Lake water levels will go down. When that happens, they will be able to pump water off the swamp adjacent to Cloverdale Lake and, hopefully, alleviate the flooding on M-43.

Until then, motorists need to follow the detour.

Although the flood water has not yet reached Farrah’s residence, the water level has eliminated what used to be his beach and creeped up roughly 10 feet from the original shoreline. An old railroad tie in his backyard is currently buried under more than a foot of water, and that sits about 10 feet from shore. A year ago, the railroad tie was the demarcation between the water and the beach.

“I don’t think I’ll have to water my tomato plants this year,” Farrah said, joking about his small tomato garden that may end up being engulfed by the rising water.

Farrah’s house sits near the portion of M-43 that has been closed because of flooding. He said some motorists are disregarding the blockade that is supposed to close the road. They just opt to drive through the flooded portion of the highway.

Cloverdale Lake’s only outlet is a 10-inch culvert on the north side of the lake that runs under Guernsey Lake Road and empties into Long Lake. The culvert was installed in 1992.

Rob Young said he was one of the residents who pushed for the installation of the culvert almost 30 years ago.

“The county provided the piping, but told us we could put it in ourselves,” Young said. “So, me and a group of five others each put in $5,000 to pay for the digging labor to install the culvert.”

According to Young, much of the flooding on Cloverdale Lake would be alleviated by replacing an 80-foot stretch of the culvert.

“The water coming out of the culvert right now is taking up about 35 percent of the pipe,” Young said. “It should be around taking up about 75 percent of the pipe.

“I feel sorry for all these people here who are being affected by this,” Young said.

Dull said anyone who needs help because of flooding should contact his office.

“If you have a problem or know anyone that does have a problem, give me a call and I’ll come out and see what I can do,” he said

The drain commissioner’s office number is 269-945-1385.

The next Crooked Lake Task Force meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 20, at the Prairieville Township Hall.

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