Video: When the River Rose, So Did We

On Earth Day Weekend 2013 the Grand River hit its highest level in modern times.  Faced with a historic flood that threatened environmental and economic disaster, West Michigan Environmental Action Council initiated an unprecedented community response in support of the City of Grand Rapids.

More than 1,500 volunteers came out to fill 150,000 sand bags, enough to fortify public and private assets throughout the region.  The video above details the story of that effort and explains how the real challenges are still to come.

This flood was a living lesson, affirming the need to protect our water resources by capturing rain water where it falls.  WMEAC has been educating our communities about the need for stormwater management for years, in preparation for climate change impacts. Now that water is receding, our work really begins.  There has never been a better time to reinvent local stormwater policies and practice!

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0 replies
  1. Nancy Gallardo
    Nancy Gallardo says:

    I worked three days baggie sandbags, and what impressed me the most was the ethnic diversity of the folks who came to help, blacks, hispanics, etc, yet I saw none in this video.

    • Daniel Schoonmaker
      Daniel Schoonmaker says:

      We had that concern as well, Nancy. Unfortunately, we were limited by who was able to show up for the video shoot and who we were able to capture on images suitable for high-resolution video. You will certainly see that diversity represented in the photographs on Facebook and in this blog.

  2. Nathaniel Sharpe
    Nathaniel Sharpe says:

    When approached by Dan at WMEAC, I knew I had to help – not just that I’m an Environmental Studies Minor (to my Liberal Studies Major), but during this period, each day I walked the bridge to the DeVos downtown campus, I could see the river getting higher by the day! It was pretty ominous, especially considering the number of people along the Grand River, for the many miles it flows out to the lake, who were increasingly under threat from the sheer power of nature. I don’t even think I considered anything other than giving a hand when the opportunity came up. What an experience, not just that the community came out for the ‘rescue’ effort for the properties at risk, but listening to so many personal stories of passion & leading to developing to a ‘vocation’ for the environment, at a time like this when our combined efforts can truly make a difference – in helping heal our environment locally and beyond…


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