Detroit, MI - Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) Director Gary Brown provided an update on the flooding response following a historic rainstorm on June 26.
Officials commit to assisting Detroiters through the recovery process, including seeking a presidential disaster declaration.
Detroit and Wayne County has experienced an extraordinary rain event, far beyond the designed capacity of the region's storm sewer system. Governor Whitmer toured the area prior to the press conference with City officials where she shared her commitment to address with the state legislature the aging infrastructure, including the roads and freeways, and supporting DWSD and other water utilities in upgrading the systems to meet today’s climate change.
“We are committed to ensuring that our most vulnerable residents have assistance with their flood damage,” said Mayor Duggan. “Several City departments are involved in the response including preparing for a potential presidential declaration with FEMA assistance, getting disaster supplies and recruiting volunteers to help seniors and persons with disabilities.”
Historic rain event
According to weather service data, the City Airport rain gauge and currentresults.com, the June 26, 2021 rain event was the most single day rain total in 80 years at 5.77 inches compared with the previous historic total at 4.57 inches on August 11, 2014.
DWSD has crews across the city, especially in severely impacted neighborhoods, unclogging catch basins and cleaning city sewer collection pipes where needed. The Department of Public Works (DPW) has 15 crews picking up flood debris, and the City ensures there will be no bulk trash ticketing in affected areas. Mayor Duggan is working with Governor Whitmer to seek a presidential disaster declaration to activate Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) resources.
How to get your house cleaned
Residents that still have standing water in their basement that they believe is an immediate health hazard should inform DWSD immediately. DWSD will send a crew to the location.
The City is recruiting volunteers to assist residents who are seniors or persons with a disability and need help clearing debris from their basement. When submitting the flood damage at detroitmi.gov/waterdamageclaims or calling 313-267-8000 this should be checked on the form or mentioned to the representative.
Homeowners and renters, who have bulk items from the flood damage, can put them out immediately. There will be no bulk trash ticketing in flood impacted areas.
How to volunteer to help clean a neighbor’s house
The City is looking for volunteers to work a four-hour shift helping move debris from basements of seniors and people with disabilities. Protective gear will be provided. The schedule of volunteering and gathering locations will be set for later this week in different neighborhoods.
To sign up to be a volunteer, go to detroitmi.gov and click on the Flood Response link, then select the Volunteer Cleanup Assistance Sign Up button. Volunteers will be contacted and asked their location preferences.
How to file a claim
Residents who have flood damage on their property may be able to get reimbursement. They can file a claim locally with DWSD and the City will be able to file with FEMA if a presidential declaration of disaster is issued. Submit the claim at detroitmi.gov/waterdamageclaims or call 313-267-8000 if you need assistance completing the form.
It is very important that homeowners and renters document losses with photos of the flood damage and receipts related to cleaning out their basements and related repairs. Homeowners who have insurance should file a claim with their insurance company immediately.
Under state law, residents who have flood damage have 45 days to file a claim with DWSD, which in this case is August 10, 2021. However, this was a historic rainstorm and backups in most cases are not likely due to a local sewer system defect. The city will use claim information to jump start the FEMA process if a presidential disaster declaration is granted.
DWSD has been taking the lead on the response efforts, activating a call center and online reporting system and dispatching crews across the city to unclog basins. More than 7,000 calls were received in the first two days that included 2,800 water in basement backup reports. DWSD crews are concentrating on the neighborhoods where there are clusters of water in basement reports.
“Our heart goes out to the many residents who had their homes flood, which included some of our own city employees,” said DWSD Director Gary Brown. “The intensity of the storms early Saturday morning exceeded the design standards for pump stations and combined sewer overflow facilities serving the Detroit region, which are operated by the Great Lakes Water Authority. With this much rain, there was nowhere for the water to go other than to flood streets and basements.”
Regional sewer system operational
The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) reports that both the Connor Creek combined sewer overflow facility and pumping station and the Freud pumping station are all working within capacity and levels were down to normal by Saturday afternoon. Once this rain event is concluded, GLWA will perform an investigation of system operations, as will DWSD.
Sewer infrastructure has received updates, more planned
Flood protection efforts in the past three years in the city of Detroit included inspecting and cleaning 30,607 catch basins, cleaning 575 miles of sewer collection pipes, and lining and rehabilitating another 50 miles of city sewer. Brown added, “The record rainfall showed that our preventative maintenance was effective in that the rainfall receded from streets and basements far more quickly than in August 2014.”
DWSD and the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) are investing nearly a billion dollars in the sewer system serving the city and region over the next five years. This includes a new project led by DWSD starting later this year to direct stormwater from the Far West neighborhood into two new detention basins in Rouge Park, managing 95 million gallons of stormwater annually, and thus increasing capacity in the sewer system. GLWA is investing $750 million in the regional sewer system over the next five years that has a direct benefit to Detroit residents. And, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is already working with City officials on freeway stormwater diversion plans.
About the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) serves more than 230,000 accounts that includes a residential population of nearly 700,000. DWSD’s water system consists of more than 2,700 miles of water main and 30,000-plus fire hydrants, and the combined sewer collection system has nearly 3,000 miles of sewer piping, more than 90,000 catch basins and 16 green stormwater infrastructure projects within the city of Detroit. Beginning in June 2019, DWSD embarked on a five-year, $500 million program to begin to address the aging infrastructure, including replacing lead service lines. To learn more about DWSD or to request water services, make payments, enroll in assistance programs, or report water or sewer emergencies, call DWSD Customer Care at 313-267-8000, use the Improve Detroit mobile app, or visit www.detroitmi.gov/dwsd.