Flooding Along St. Joe River Resurfaces Following Major Snow Melt & Ice Jams

Less than a year after last spring’s major flooding in parts of Berrien County, a number of Derfla Drive residents in Royalton Township are looking at deja vu. It’s happening again, although not yet to the extreme of last spring.

Capt. Rockey Adams is Emergency Management Coordinator for Berrien County. He reported today that residents along the Saint Joseph River in the Royalton Township area have been experiencing flooding over the past few days, with especially significant flooding along Derfla Drive.

Adams reports, “The Saint Joseph River is flowing much slower than normal, causing backups, and slowing snow-melt drainage.” Adams says, “With additional rain in the forecast, we expect the river will continue to flood in this area for the next few days, unless the ice breaks free soon.”

The photo accompanying this story on Moody on the Market showing a section of Derfla Drive under some 11 to 12 inches of flood water is courtesy of the Berrien County Road Department.

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The Emergency Management Office has been communicating frequently with Township and State officials to do what is in their power to alleviate property damage.  Capt. Adams says, “Royalton Township worked with us to offer a sandbag program to those residents that are affected and the United Way of Southwest Michigan has been organizing volunteers to help fill bags for those needing some extra help.” He notes, “We are speaking with experts for advice on potential engineering solutions, but they may determine that Mother Nature may, unfortunately, have to run her course.”

The waters may also continue to rise in neighboring communities. People are encouraged to report their flooding conditions to their local municipal office and the National Weather Service in Northern Indiana (you can visit the link below to learn how to submit a report. Here’s the link:


Currently, the road is closed to through traffic in Royalton Township on Derfla Drive, Linden Drive, and Diller Road in Sodus Township. Travelers are asked to not drive through the flood waters and also asked to avoid those areas.

Township Officials and the Fire Department are monitoring the areas for public safety concerns, but if any resident believes their safety might be at risk, they should take appropriate action. The community should call 911 if there is an emergency.  Residents are encouraged to call 2-1-1 if they are looking for assistance coping with damage.

The Berrien County Health Department is visiting residents whose wells are under water in Royalton Township and may need to take action to protect drinking water from contamination. If you are connected to a private well, and flood waters have ponded around your well, your drinking water supply may be impacted from infiltration of contaminants around your well casing. If you believe your well may have been impacted, contact Berrien County Health Department at (269) 926-7121 for information on testing your water supply for bacteriological contamination and additional advice.

The Emergency Management Office offers the following tips for flooding:

  • Injury Prevention: Stay out of flood waters. Even the strongest swimmers can drown in flood waters. Do not drive through standing water. Never make contact with power lines or objects that are in contact with power lines.
  • Sandbagging: Sandbags are generally available at many hardware stores and local excavation companies may offer service.  Watch the Army Corp of Engineers video at the link below on how to build a sandbag levee. Here’s the link:


  • Insurance: Check with your home owners insurance company prior to an event and see if your have proper coverage if your sump pump or storm sewer fails.
  • Pumps: Check your sump pump and make sure it is operational.  If you can afford to do so, have a back-up sump pump ready to replace one that has failed.
  • Furnishings: Move what furniture and valuables you can to the highest floor of the house, or in  single story homes, raise them off of the ground as much as possible. Do this at the onset of a flood watch.
  • Evacuations: You may self-evacuate if you believe water levels are dangerous at any time.  Evacuate to higher ground if a flood warning is issued.  Follow your family evacuation plan while avoiding waterways at all costs.
  • Stay Informed: Continue to monitor weather forecasts for rain and snow at https://www.weather.gov/iwx/.  You can also find the river forecast center’s data for available gauges in the area.  In times of ice jamming, these gauges may not reflect flooding conditions throughout the length of the river.