Metro Detroit Cities Report Flood Damaged 33% To 50% Of Homes, Businesses

By Niraj Warikoo, Christina Hall and Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 14--The damage done by Monday's heavy rains and flooding across metro Detroit became increasingly clear today as debris from waterlogged homes continues to pile up.

About 40% of homes and commercial properties in Dearborn were flooded or had sewer backups in their basement as a result of the storm, city officials said. And reports are still coming in. Warren reports about one-third of homes affected, and about 50 percent of Ferndale's homes were flooded, according to Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter's Facebook page.

In cities near I-75 and I-696, among other flood-affected areas, curbs are littered with trash bags, carpeting and countless odds and ends pulled from basements. The tri-county area was declared a disaster area by Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday.

Flooding destroyed water heaters, furnaces and major appliances. Some residents who have never had a problem before with flooding saw their basements ruined.

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At Lowe's Home Improvement in Madison Heights, people are lining up for mops, brooms, dehumidifiers, fans and more.

"We've been able to get emergency shipments from our distribution center," manager Laurie Allen said. "We're keeping up with what the customers demand."

Dearborn got hit with 6 inches of rain on Monday, the second-highest amount among all cities in metro Detroit, according to the National Weather Service. Earlier this week, more than 75% of "Dearborn's roads, including state, local and county roads and main arteries were flooded and impassable," the city said in a statement.

City Hall has been "extensively damaged" by flooding. And more than 85 cars were towed out of floodwaters.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said this morning that roughly a third of the city's homes were damaged.

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Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. has declared an emergency in the city, as have a number of affected cities and counties, the first step in getting state and federal resources.

Dearborn and Dearborn Heights have had lawsuits filed against them in the past by homeowners who say the city failed to protect their homes from floods.

"There are lots of questions," said Dearborn attorney Tarek Baydoun, who has met with homeowners whose basements were flooded. "The people are wondering what took the government so long to provide information to them, and who, if anyone, will help them as they deal with this devastation."

O'Reilly said that the storm was a once-in-lifetime type of event, and so it would be unfair to blame the city for the problems.

"The system was operating the best it could, but the volume overwhelmed it," he said.

The city said that residents can fill out forms detailing property damage for potential reimbursement at www.cityofdearborn.org or visit the legal department at City Hall.

He cautioned that many might not get assistance because of the uniqueness of the storm.

Dearborn Heights got about 400 calls for flooded basements, said Dearborn Heights Mayor Dan Paletko.

Two police cars and one ambulance were ruined while making emergency runs because of water reaching their engine, Paletko said.

Police used boats to rescue people in homes and cars, he said.?

According to a post on the city of St. Clair Shores' Facebook page this morning, Rizzo Environmental Services informed the city that it is having difficulties getting through its normal daily route because of the volume of trash. It is unable to make special pickups and items placed at the curb, therefore, will be picked up on the normal service day, according to the post.

Joe Munem, director of government affairs for Rizzo Environmental Services, said today that spare garbage trucks have hit the streets to help remove debris in affected communities. The trucks are running longer and will work through the weekend, he said.

The company services communities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

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Munem said the debris is being taken to closer disposal sites so trucks can return to the communities faster, but closer is not always as cost effective. He said items may be taken to the Detroit incinerator today, a locale the trucks couldn't get to the last few days because of interstate closures.

When asked if communities could face extra cost from the enormous amount of trash pickup, Munem said some may be requested for additional costs.

"This is a very significant expense," he said, adding that the amount of debris being picked up is "significantly more than you'd see on a regular day. Not only that, it's heavy. It's all heavy ... It's awful."

Munem said workers, many impacted by flooding at their own homes, are wearing protective gear, such as gloves, to pick up the heavier-than-normal debris.

He said the company is tracking the amount of debris it is picking up for each community, but does not have a total today.

Munem said with the state of emergency declarations, the communities may be able to receive state or federal money to cover the cost of police and fire overtime and other related expenses, such as trash pickup, from the flooding.

Starting today in Macomb County, a hotline for residents in need will be available from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 586-493-6767.

The county is encouraging all residents and businesses who suffered damage from the heavy rain and flood to use an online reporting tool.

The Damage Assessment Report Form can be found on the Emergency Management website at http://oemc.macombgov.org. A hard copy of the form is available at all local government offices.

The purpose of the reporting form is to collect information only for reporting to the state and

is not a mechanism for any type of reimbursement of financial assistance, the county said.

The county also established a damage assessment reporting center at the Southwest Health Center, 27690 Van Dyke, in Warren for residents who do not have access to a computer or need help completing the form.

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(c)2014 the Detroit Free Press

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