Floods devastate Houghton business district

Published: Jun. 17, 2018 at 4:40 PM EDT
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Houghton County residents face flash flooding, massive washouts and sink holes, all the aftermath of a major thunderstorm that hit overnight. Chassell, Houghton, Ripley, Lake Linden, Hubbell and more all face major flood damage. More than 60 sinkholes and washouts are reported. Locals are saying they have never seen anything like this here before.

"I'm a little shocked that it actually happened around here. Not many tornadoes or anything like that happen here," said Calumet resident Farrah Wood.

The river from Huron Lake to the Portage Canal washed out a major section between Razorback Drive and Ridge Road in Houghton. The culvert under Sharon Avenue and large sections of the road were also washed away. Water undercut foundations of several businesses including a car wash and AAA Copper Country Insurance Agency. The Taco Bell Drive thru and sign washed into the river.

"This morning when I got a call from my mom that the road by my parents' house was kind of caved in. And then I saw a bunch of pictures on Facebook and live videos that Taco Bell's sign was down and that the whole valley between it was covered in water," said Wood.

This is just a small piece of the devastation local residents are facing.

Several roads leading in and out of Houghton are closed. US-41 headed south towards Chassell is closed. Michigan Department of Transportation is evaluating whether they can reopen it with a signal light. In the meantime Houghton City Police advise anyone travelling locally between Houghton and Chassell detour using Green Acres Road to Superior Road to Chassell-Painesdale Road.

"This is a pretty wild experience that we are having here. We got a pretty decent chunk of rain last night. The majority of us can't even get home. Roads are collapsed. Bridges are collapsed. Roads are covered in water. Whatever roads aren't collapsed it depends on how heavy of a vehicle you drive whether or not you are able to drive on those roads," said Chassell resident Tom Cowell.

The Sturgeon River Bridge on US-41 south of Chassell is flooded and impassable. Anyone traveling to Baraga-L’Anse area south out of Houghton can take M-26 to M-38. There are several closures on M-26 from Hancock towards Ripley and Lake Linden-Hubbell area.

Western Upper Peninsula Health Department has issued a Well Water Drinking Advisory and boil advisory for all affected areas. Information on how to ensure your drinking and cooking water is safe is available on our website.

With more rain on its way tonight, there are concerns about further damage. Anyone in Houghton County is advised to seek shelter, look out for flash floods and stay off the roads as much as possible.