MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN)-The Christmas Blizzard may be over, but it has left a lot of damage in its wake. The sustained north winds blowing in off of Lake Superior, coupled with the frigid temps created an ice dam at the mouth of the Au Train River, which then caused the river water to back up and flood the area.
“The hard north winds that we had for three, four days pushed in a lot a lot of sand to start with, and then with the cold temperatures it froze along with all the shove ice,” Said Seaberg, “and it’s backed up to about a foot and a half below the bottom of the bridge along with flooding a lot of homes upstream.”
Wyatt Seaberg of Seaberg Enterprises is tasked with removing the ice dam and getting the Au Train River flowing again. After several state, local, and federal permits were secured, work could commence. But it’s not as easy as just un-clogging the river.
“We were able to get everything out here last night and we got water flowing last night to try to maintain the most they don’t get any worse.” Said Wyatt Seaberg. “And then this morning we started widening up that trench that’s draining the river. The biggest thing is not draining it so fast that it washes out underneath the bridge”
According to Au Train Twp. Supervisor, Michelle Doucette, and some 50 residents of the small community of Au Train began seeing water backing up into their yards on Sunday. However, it wasn’t till Monday evening at 7 pm When all the necessary paperwork was completed and signed, allowing work to begin.
“With all the water that’s there. It’s saturated all the soils around the bridge along with around a lot of homes and that’s why people are experiencing the flooding in their basements but with all the water being saturated, makes everything super soft. And if you were to just open the gates per se, all that soft material would wash out from under the bridge.” Explained Seaberg. “So as much as everybody wants it to be a quick process to dry out their basements and just make the water disappear. The right way to go about it is slow and steady.”
With a mountain of ice and snow to clear away, Seaberg believes the best plan of action is to let mother nature and the laws of physics clear the ice dam.
**UPDATE 6:20 PM 12/29/2022**
Efforts to remove the ice dam that has blocked the outflow of the Au Train River where it flows into Lake Superior have been successful. Au Train township officials are reporting on their Facebook page, that water levels at the M-28 bridge are dropping at a rate of ¾” per hour.
The ice dam had caused flooding in the neighborhoods adjacent to the river, as water backed up behind it. Many residents’ yards and septic systems were affected. Work on cutting through the Ice Dam began on Tuesday, allowing a small channel to be dug, and starting the slow draining of the backed-up river.
There was a fear that if the water were drained too quickly, it could damage the footing of the M-28 bridge and endanger the major artery for travel in the northern UP.
Township supervisor Michelle Doucette says that the Red Cross will be on hand this weekend to distribute cleaning supplies and fresh water.