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Thunderstorms bring several unseen dangers; officials issue warnings

Thunderstorms bring several unseen dangers; officials issue warnings. (WWMT)

From floods to fires, government officials and emergency responders remind people to use caution as more thunderstorms roll in Monday night.

A lightning strike started a fire at a Kalamazoo County home early Monday morning, about 30 to 40 minutes after the family inside heard boom.

Comstock Deputy Fire Chief Dave Wuis said the spark from the fire smoldered in the attic until the roof caught fire. He said if it sounds like lightning has struck close to your home, go look for smoke with a flashlight.

“Double check your house; make sure you check the attic, the basement, and your gas meter, especially,” Wuis said.

The sound of rain put people on edge in areas already hit by historic flooding less than three months ago.

“The basement floods here real bad, the sub-pump runs non-stop, can't get to your house,” said Angie Henderson.

She navigated the maze of road closed signs throughout Kalamazoo to check on her daughter’s place on Reed Court near Portage Creek.

“I don't think they ever fully recover, you know, because we get a lot of rain,” Henderson said.

Portage Creek peaked at flood stage around 10 a.m. Monday, director of Public Services for Kalamazoo, James Baker, says it will take at least 12 hours for the water to drop back below the banks and more rain is on the way.

Baker hopes the city will get lucky and the heavies rainfall won’t hit Kalamazoo, if it does, he said that will delay Portage Creek from receding for about 18 hours.

Since the Kalamazoo River is not expected to hit flood stage, Baker does not expect this to be nearly as bad as the flooding in late-February, but many of those homes are still in or just getting out of recovery mode.

The city shut down several streets as a precaution, in case the water rises overnight, and reminded people not to drive or walk through flooded areas.

Justin Neloson said, “You get caught on one of these roads and it's a river, it's not a mud puddle,”

A lesson he learned the hard way during the February floods, Nelson’s car got stuck in the same waters where one man later died after his car filled with water.

Nelson said, “I hit just like a little bit of water and I couldn't reverse any more so it was off and running, it only took about five minutes and my car was completely submerged.”

Stranded on the hood of the car he jumped in to swim to dry land, which proved to be more difficult that he expected.

“I had to doggie paddle because it was so cold my body went into shock so I couldn't reach out into the stroke,” said Nelson.

Looking at water levels in Portage Creek, Henderson said she felt, “Nervous because my daughter lives here and if her car gets flooded she’s calling mom to get her out.”

Her daughter also totaled her car in the February floods, trying to find a way home.

Basker said the hardest hit area is near the Crosstown ponds, an area that is typically the first flood.

Crosstown Parkway is closed between Stockbridge Avenue and Park Street because of flooding.

Forrest Street is closed and Park Street is next, if the water keeps rising, city officials said. Park Street is currently down to one lane.

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