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Scenes From The Metro Detroit Flood

By Detroit Free Press
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 13--As the floodwaters rose, Riley was trapped in his crate in the basement of the Hazel Park home. The year-and-a-half-old dog lifted his nose above the murky water.

Dave Bentsen, alerted to the flooding by a neighbor, rushed home, where he saw the water had risen close to the second step up from the basement. He jumped in, ran to the cage and ripped open the door.

"When I got home, the cage was locked, the water was up to here to this bar," he said, pointing just a few inches down from the top of the crate, "and I couldn't see him and I opened the cage and reached in for him and he went under the water and came out the other end and just jumped into my arms."

Bentsen said Riley, a friendly Pomeranian-beagle mix, had been submerged, with his nose sticking up.

"Thankfully, he had the stamina to keep his nose up," Bentsen said.

Bentsen said, "It was scary, very scary."

Not long after the rescue, the water climbed higher. Bentsen said that, at one point, the water was four cement bricks deep.

Like Niagara Falls

Barbara Duclos, 75, wore purple gloves and plaid rubber boots as she made trip after trip from her basement to her curb to discard items ruined by floodwater.

"I wanted to clean my basement," she said. "But this wasn't the way I wanted to do it."

She has lived in her home on Vinsetta Boulevard in Royal Oak for 26 years and had never had a flood until Monday night. The water, she said, came in her front door like "Niagara Falls" and left about 4 feet of water in her basement.

Her insurance company will only cover personal items, leaving her to pick up the tab for the rest. Cleanup will take 3-4 days, she expects.

The water moved her washer and dryer and took the sink between the two off the wall, she said. It destroyed luggage, Christmas and Halloween decorations, important papers including tax receipts on shelves and her mother's cedar chest.

"I've never seen anything like this," she said as she cleaned today. "Never, ever."

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More supplies coming

Josie Raona wasn't able to make it home last night, and when she finally got there this morning, she saw the damage to her home.

"It looked like a tornado went through the basement," she said coming out of Great Lakes ACE Hardware off East 4th in Royal Oak. "It's a mess. It stinks."

Raona, 59, needed a wet-dry vac to clean and bought the last one on the shelf just before more rain started falling this afternoon. Her basement had been covered in about 3 feet of water, and included sewage, but the water receded to about three inches by this afternoon, she said.

Hundreds of customers, many of whom are in similar situations, went to the ACE Hardware store for supplies including: bleach, mops, rubber gloves, fans, sump pumps, garbage bags, plastic bins, cleaning products and dehumidifiers.

"We're getting wiped out on everything," store manager Mike Dunne said.

But more supplies are being shipped and should arrive tonight or Wednesday, he said. Usually after a storm, people come in from pockets of town, but this time was different.

"It just feels like it's the whole city this time," Dunne said.

'It was like a geyser'

Brett Ekstrom, project superintendent with Diamond Recovery Property Restoration, stopped by a house and ended up taking down names of several more homeowners on Vinsetta Boulevard, west of North Main in Royal Oak.

Business has been nonstop, he said, adding he's going from "house to house to house to house" across metro Detroit. Ekstrom said the sad thing is many people don't have insurance that covers this type of event.

"Getting business today is not an issue," Ekstrom said.

Cleanup is expected to be going on all week, and recovery teams will come in from other states to help. One of the homes on the block Ekstrom stopped at had 5 feet of water, described by the homeowner as brown-blackish, in the basement.

"It's just a mess," said Elke Schroeter, 73, who has lived in her home on Vinsetta since 1978.

Water came into her yard and covered the front porch but didn't make it through the front door, she said. Nearby, a manhole cover came off and water spewed several feet high Monday evening.

Let's make dreams come true.

"It was like a geyser," she said.

Medical facilities flooded

Floodwaters seeped into some hospitals and doctors' offices, forcing dozens of patients to be relocated, ambulances to be rerouted, and metro Detroit residents to reschedule surgeries and appointments that had been set for this week.

Up to a foot of water collected in the basement of Oakwood Hospital-Dearborn. That included the emergency department, which was forced to reroute ambulances, and the food storage area. Staff was dispatched overnight to purchase food -- muffins, bagels and sandwiches -- for patients at Meijer and Gordon Food Service stores, according to spokesman Scott Spielman.

And at Detroit Medical Center'sSurgical Hospital in Madison Heights, floodwaters on the first floor prompted staff to shut off power as a precaution, transfer 20 patients to other DMC hospitals, and reschedule surgeries that were set for the next few days. Henry Ford Health System reported water in the first floor of Wyandotte and Kingswood hospitals. Some Wyandotte patients had to be moved to different areas of the hospital, and the emergency department didn't accept any ambulances overnight. At Kingswood in Ferndale, administrative offices -- but no clinical areas -- were flooded, said spokesman David Olejarz.

Only premium gas available

At the Clark gas station on Hamilton Avenue in Highland Park, near a flooded and closed section of M-10 where traffic was being diverted Tuesday morning, station manager Moe Dee said he had only premium gasoline remaining.

"The tanker trucks couldn't get through," he said. "I was supposed to get supplied at 5 p.m. yesterday -- how long is that going to last? I'm sure a lot of other gas stations will be in the same position today."

Detroit Zoo closes

Flooding was so bad that it even closed the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak today. On its website, the zoo said flooding caused damage to facilities and equipment.

"All animals are secure and there are no concerns with animal welfare at this time," according to the website, which also says staff members are evaluating the park and beginning to clean up and make repairs. According to the site, the zoo is expected to reopen Wednesday.

Let's make dreams come true.

Dream Cruise lunch canceled

The flooding impacted the kick-off media gathering for the Woodward Dream Cruise. Dream Cruise spokesman Louie Katsaros said board members of the nonprofit Woodward Dream Cruise operating board are excited about the good weather forecast for Saturday, but sorry to have canceled today's traditional kick-off media gathering and luncheon at Channel 7 headquarters in Southfield.

Because freeways and 10 Mile Road in Southfield were closed, mayors and other city officials "needed to stay in their cities to deal with storm issues," and the classic-car collectors who were signed up to show their vehicles at the event were concerned about the threat of more rain.

Paddling the flood waters

Gary Reitzel and his daughter, Emily, 19, of Clinton Township kayaked on Clinton River Road near Canal in Clinton Township today and checked on people stuck in a nearby subdivision. Gary Reitzel said he wanted to see if they needed anything. Their request? "McDonald's," he said as the pair got out of the floodwaters before dark skies opened to another possible downpour.

In Sterling Heights, Jake Bennett, 20, of Sterling Heights, and his friend paddled a canoe to Bennett's grandfather's house on Hayes on the Sterling Heights/Clinton Township border.

Bennett's grandfather, Ken Bennett, 80, came outside to take a break from cleaning the house, where water filled the basement and got up to main floor.

"The garage is shot. The basement is shot," said Ken Bennett, who doesn't have insurance on the house he's lived in for 48 years.

Retrieving abandoned vehicles

Tim Smith, 40, of New York and Patti Backos, 50, of Warren returned to Buddy's Pizza on Van Dyke in Warren today to retrieve the vehicles they were forced to abandon Monday night.

"We were dining here and the waters started to rise. It became clear we were trapped here," said Smith, who was in town on a visit.

Patrons stood on tables as they waited to be rescued with water up to the seat cushions before Smith, Backos and others were ferried to the nearby Lowe's parking lot to wait. Smith and Backos eventually walked to Mound and 13 Mile where they were picked up by family.

At one point a fire truck became stranded getting from Lowe's to Buddy's, which is across the street, they said. Staff members at Buddy's were working to clean and dry out the inside of the restaurant and help their returning customers restart their vehicles. It's unclear when the restaurant will reopen.

Wave stops truck

Flooding flushed out an embankment across I-75 during Monday's heavy rains, stopping Craig Payne's dump truck in its tracks and forcing him to flee.

He was exiting southbound on the ramp to I-696 when he saw "a 20-foot wave of water, like a miniature Niagara Falls came over and kicked the truck sideways," and the mud enveloped his tires. Payne, 58, of Warren, said a state trooper threw him a rope and helped him out of the surging water.

The next day, his truck and a green Pontiac sedan were both stuck deep in the mud beneath the embankment, where 10 feet of dirt was missing below Stephenson Highway. Payne had been hauling concrete for work when the flooding hit Monday evening.

"I figured with all that concrete in there, I could barrel my way out," Payne said. "But once that mud got a hold of them tires, it just sealed me in."

At home in Warren, he had 3 feet of water in the basement.

"I get done here, I get to go clean that mess up," he said, joking that it's a "fun" way to start the week.

Staff Writers Gina Damron, Elisha Anderson, Robert Allen, Christina Hall, Eric D. Lawrence, Bill Laitner, Robin Erb, Keith Matheny and Ann Zaniewski contributed to this report.


(c)2014 the Detroit Free Press

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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