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Macomb County

August 26, 2014

County assesses damage after flood

By Julie Snyder
C & G Staff Writer

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Flooding damaged the concrete under the Fairfield Road overpass near Schoenherr at 11 Mile in Warren, but engineers assure the bridge is structurally sound.

MACOMB COUNTY — “We have a huge concern on our hands.”

Those were the words of Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, who, during a media event near the Fairfield Road overpass in Warren Aug. 15, made it clear that the recent flood damage to businesses, homes and structures around the area is cause enough for federal assistance.

But in order to get a clear assessment of the damage, residents and business owners across the county must report their losses.

“We need actual numbers as to how many have been impacted,” Hackel said. “I want to know what we need to help the people right here.”

Hackel reports that more than 20,000 homes and businesses in Macomb County have so far reported flood damage since an Aug. 11 storm dumped upwards of 5 inches of rain in some areas in less than three hours, causing sewer backups that flooded basements, roadways and even highways, which in turn resulted in thousands of motorists around metro Detroit becoming  stranded. Tragically, one person died, apparently as a result of the flooding and the ensuing complications. Sources said a 100-year-old Warren resident was found dead in a basement by her daughter.

Hackel eventually declared a state of emergency.

“This has been a major flooding situation,” he said after the storm. “Our Emergency Management team continues to receive reports and requests for assistance from the flooding which caused major roads and highways to be closed, and considerable damage to homes and businesses.”

Hackel said officials from the Macomb Department of Roads and the Michigan Department of Transportation have been working closely together to assess structural damage and cleaning up the spoils.

Leo Ciavatta, maintenance superintendent for the Department of Roads, said despite the visible damage to overpasses like Fairfield, the bridge remains safe to travel on.

“It is structurally sound,” he said. “But this was the worst flooding I have ever seen. The volume of water was the biggest problem.”

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder officially declared Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties disaster areas on Aug. 13.

In the order, the governor said “flooding has threatened public health and safety due to widespread and severe damage to homes, businesses, public facilities, and infrastructure,” and that it had “created major difficulties in transportation” that included closed freeways littered with stranded vehicles.

Snyder’s proclamation makes further state resources available to assist municipalities. In a prepared statement, the governor said his office would also actively pursue “all potential avenues of assistance, including applicable federal relief programs to ensure that all appropriate resources are secured for our hardest-hit communities in Southeast Michigan.”

Macomb County Emergency Management Director Vicki Wolber reports that following a review of all communities, it has been determined that local and county resources continue to be utilized and needed, and that more and more damage reports are occurring.

A hotline number for residents in need of information was set up and is available from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday. That number is (586) 493-6767 and can also be utilized to report damage.

“Take pictures of the damage, find any receipts. It’s extremely important that anybody impacted by this flooding make a report, even if ... it’s only $10 or $100 or thousands of dollars,” Hackel said. “They need to call us because we need to paint a picture for the state and federal government to say, ‘This is a serious emergency we had here.’ Now we need some sort of presidential declaration.”

The county is also encouraging all residents and businesses who suffered damage from the heavy rain and floods to use an online reporting tool. The Damage Assessment Report Form can be found on the Emergency Management website at oemc.macombgov.org. A hard copy of the form is also available at all local government offices.

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