Digital Flood Newsletter

Since 1900, Vassar has flooded at least 28 times. Past floods have ranged from being a nuisance on some city streets, to flooding entire first floors of businesses in the Downtown area. Residents and businesses located near the Cass River and in some low lying areas are within the regulated floodplain. Residents and business owners can find out if a piece of property is in the regulated floodplain by calling City Hall at (989) 823-8517 or at our floodplain resource page at

Flooding in Vassar usually presents itself with some warning. The Moore Drain serves land to the northwest of Vassar, providing drainage for several hundred acres of land. The flooding from the drain can be associated with smaller storms that might be expected to occur once every few years. Major flooding issues are produced from the Cass River. The river drains 710 square miles of land to the north of Vassar. By carefully watching the conditions in upstream communities, we can estimate the extent of flooding in Vassar and its estimated time of arrival, usually a day or two in advance. Sirens placed in strategic locations in Vassar are sounded when a flood warning is issued by the National Weather Service or by City personnel. This warning means flooding is imminent and very likely to occur.

If your property is susceptible to flooding (call City Hall at 823-8517 to find out), there are many flood damage reduction measures you can employ.

•     Watertight seals can be applied to brick and block walls to protect against low-level flooding.

•     Utilities such as heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and other major appliances can be elevated to higher floors in the structure or on raised platforms.

•     Temporary measures such as moving furniture and other valuables to higher floors or sandbagging exterior openings will also help.

•      Elevating or relocating the entire structure may also be a feasible option.

For more information about protecting your home or business, call City Hall (989) 823-8517 for an at home/business consultation.

The safest thing a property owner can do to protect a home or business is to contact your local insurance agent to obtain flood coverage on your property. The City participates in the National Flood Insurance Program to offer insurance protection to residents that may experience some level of flooding. Anyone owning property within the City of Vassar may purchase flood insurance on their structures and contents, regardless of whether or not it is located within the 100-year floodplain. Properties shown to be within the 100-year floodplain MUST carry flood insurance on their property if there is a mortgage from a lending institution that is backed by the Federal government, such as FSLIC, FDIC, FHA or Fannie Mae. Standard home or business owner’s insurance policy does not cover damages due to flooding.


The following guidelines can help you from the dangers of flooding:

•     Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in cars than anywhere else. Do not drive around barriers.

•     Do not walk through flowing water. Currents can be deceptive.  Six inches of water can knock you off your feet.

•     Be alert to gas leaks.  Turn off the gas to your house before it floods. If you smell gas, report it to a City official or your gas company. Do not use candles, lanterns or open flames if you smell gas or are unsure if your gas has been shut off.

•     Keep children away from the flood waters, ditches, culverts and storm drains. Flood waters can carry unimaginable items that have dislodged themselves. Culverts may suck smaller people into them rendering them helpless.

•     Clean everything that has been wet. Flood water will be contaminated with sewage and other chemicals which pose severe health threats.

•    Look out for animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their home may seek shelter in yours.

•     Do not use gas engines, such as generators, or charcoal fires indoors during power outages. Carbon monoxide exhaust can pose serious health hazards.


Check with City Hall before you build on, alter, regrade or fill on your property.  Floodplain permits must be obtained from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality before any development or alteration in a floodplain can occur. (not just construction of buildings, but filling, excavation, fences, etc.). Copies of this application form can be obtained from the MDEQ’s website at or by telephoning the Bay City Office of MDEQ at (989) 686-8025. Building permits are also required for any construction. They are available from the Tuscola County Building Department in Caro.


The floodplain areas of the Cass River and the Moore Drain provide a significant resource to our community. They contain numerous wetlands as well as hold and store floodwaters during heavy rainfall and snowmelt events. The wetlands also harbor and provide homes and breeding grounds to many species of animals. The floodplain and wetlands also help to improve and maintain high water quality in our streams by filtering runoff following rainstorms. As the runoff moves across the floodplains and through the wetlands, pollutants are filtered out of the water before it reaches the river or the drain. Protect these areas wherever and whenever possible by following the tips below.

  • Never pour anything – especially waste oil or leftover lawn chemicals – into a storm drain. It will end up in the nearest stream.
  • Don’t over-fertilize, fertilize the sidewalk, or fertilize before it rains. Use native plants to reduce fertilizer and pesticide use.
  • Put litter in the trash & reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Recycle used auto fluids, like oil and antifreeze, at an auto parts store or the County landfill.
  • Fix leaks that drip from your car and put down a liner in your driveway to collect oil and other materials. These leaks and drips contribute to stormwater pollution.
  • Pick up after your pets. - Like other contaminants, pet waste can run down the storm drains, spreading bacteria


If you have any questions whether you are in or out of the flood plan area or floodway, or if you would like to know if there are other drainage problems or historical flooding issues in Vassar, please contact City Hall at: (989) 823-8517 or E-mail us at:

To get help with flooding or drainage problems or to schedule an at home/business consultation, contact the City’s DPW Director at: (989) 823-7231 or City Hall at: (989) 823-8517

Here are some additional sources available to help answer other questions you may have:

•     FEMA’s website at:

•     In person at: City Hall 287 E. Huron Ave. Vassar, MI 48768

•     Bullard Sanford Memorial Library

      520 W. Huron Ave

      Vassar, MI 48768