Detroit flooding

Michigan State Police

Detroit-area residents are getting a reported $246 million in federal recovery money after the August floods.

FEMA has approved $141 million in grants, while businesses will get another $104 million in low-interest loans.

But others are still waiting.

Flooding in Detroit in August 2014.
Michigan State Police

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder has approved more than $2.7 million to provide financial assistance to Michigan counties and communities impacted by last spring's flooding and last winter's deep freeze.

Michigan State Police

Big, often destructive storms are becoming much more frequent in Michigan.

Over the last 50 years, we've seen an 89% increase in storms that dump two or more inches of precipitation in a single day.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

It’s been more than three months since parts of the Detroit area were flooded by torrential rains. People are still cleaning up the mess. Organizations from around the nation are helping, but it’s a huge job.

In Berkley, AmeriCorps volunteers are in Duane Van Geison’s basement, cutting up waterlogged wood frames and cleaning up a mess. It smells like rotting wood and mildew.

Upstairs, Van Geison is huddled by a space heater, trying to keep warm. He’s 74 years old and disabled. He's no longer able to walk downstairs.

Lex Dodson

The deadline for people affected by last summer’s flooding in Metro Detroit to apply for most federal assistance is quickly approaching.

The Small Business Administration has approved at least $63 million in long-term, low-interest loans so far.

“As more and more loans are approved, that number will continue to grow,” says SBA spokesman Michael Peacock.

The “disaster loans” are available to homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profits.

Michigan State Police

DETROIT (AP) - A newspaper says nearly 10 billion gallons of sewer overflows were released into rivers and lakes in southeastern Michigan after a tremendous August storm.

  The Detroit Free Press says the number comes from reports to state regulators. The waste came from sanitary sewers that couldn't handle the rain and systems that combine stormwater and sewage.

  Untreated waste carries contaminants that can spoil Lake St. Clair beaches in Macomb County and put drinking water at risk. The Free Press says 10 billion gallons would equal about 20 million 50-gallon baths.

Michigan State Police

DETROIT – The U.S. Small Business Administration says it's making low-interest disaster loans available to home and business owners in Detroit-area counties that suffered massive flooding last month.

The Friday announcement followed President Barack Obama issuing a federal disaster declaration the day before. That action makes available funding to those affected in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties.

Aerial shot of flooding in metro Detroit on August 12, 2014.
Michigan State Police

Nearly a month after a massive rainstorm flooded homes and streets in Southeast 

Michigan, FEMA is wrapping up damage assessments that could help victims get federal aid.

Officials have toured damage in three counties to assess the hits to both private homes and public property, like schools and fire trucks.

Their report will eventually land on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk, who will decide whether to apply for presidential aid. 

Even then, actually getting that aid can be a long shot.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan is one of only two states (the other being Iowa) that does not meet any of the minimum standards for disaster planning for schools and child care operators, according to Save the Children.

An annual report by the group says Michigan schools are not required to have a "multi-threat" disaster plan, which would include drills for active shooter events.

And the group says, while large child care centers are required to have disaster plans in place, family and individual day care operators are not.

Aerial shot of flooding in metro Detroit on August 12, 2014.
Michigan State Police

The Detroit metro area typically gets around three inches of rain for the month of August. On August 11, the area got more than four inches of rain in one day.

The rain, as you've heard, wrecked things, and two weeks later people are still digging out.

We heard this morning that people are snapping up new appliances at big box stores in the wake of the flood, so you know that means people are also tossing a lot of material.

The Home Depot in Madison Heights, for instance, has a "flood recovery zone" set up inside the store's entrance. Things like drywall, paint, cleaning supplies, dehumidifiers, and appliances are flying off the shelves.

Morguefile

LANSING – State officials say billions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage were dumped in Detroit area rivers and streams after flooding from heavy rains earlier this month.

Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Laura Verona tells The Detroit News for a story Friday that about 46% of the nearly 10 billion gallons of sewage released Aug. 11 by water treatment facilities was raw, diluted or partially treated sewage.

The state agency has put together a preliminary report on the sewage release.

Combined sewers and retention basins in some communities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties overflowed due to the Aug. 11 storm. Some areas received more than 6 inches of rain. Water from the storm left parts of freeways flooded and damaged thousands of homes.

Michigan Radio

More than a week after massive flooding ravaged parts of metro Detroit, emergency  crews and residents are still working around the clock, clearing roads and cleaning up flooded basements. 

Gov. Rick Snyder says he's asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to do a preliminary damage assessment. That's the first step to potentially getting major federal disaster aid.   

Meanwhile, suburbs like St. Clair Shores are just now digging out from all the leftover trash and debris. Doug Haag is the city's financial director.  

Gov. Snyder / Facebook

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder toured flood-damaged homes in metropolitan Detroit.

More from the Associated Press:

[Gov. Snyder met] a woman who's living in a tent in the front yard of her water-damaged home.

Forty-six-year-old Coreena Dragoi says she moved into a tent after water and mold made her house uninhabitable.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts accompanied Snyder and U.S. Rep. Sander Levin on the visit Monday to the northern Detroit suburb.

Fouts says it's vital to get government aid for his community, where about 18,000 homes sustained some type of flood damage in last week's record-setting rainstorm.

Gov. Snyder asked the state insurance commissioner to look into the damage.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder says massive flooding this week in and around Detroit reinforces the need to boost state spending on roads. Snyder says Michigan’s crumbling infrastructure may have played a role in the floods, although it’s too early to tell for sure.

“I don’t want to be premature, but you would imagine it would have some consequences in terms of magnifying the effect on the freeway flooding,” Snyder told reporters as he surveyed damage at homes and schools in Royal Oak on Friday. “That wouldn’t have affected the homes, but in terms of the freeway challenges.”

 Natural disasters, like the rain and floods that pounded metro Detroit this week, present a unique challenge for chief executives like Governor Rick Snyder. Natural disasters are certainly not like the slow work of trying to mend an economy, for example.

With natural disasters, all of an administration’s emergency planning is stress tested in real-time with real-life consequences. Years ago, Governor John Engler said a big natural disaster is any governor’s worst nightmare.

And, like most things with government, there are political consequences to natural disasters. How, for example, the public measures the way a chief executive handles the situation.

Here in Michigan, with the November election just two and a half months away, this was an important week for Governor Snyder. Which is why, when the magnitude of what was happening in metro Detroit became clear, the governor cut short a trip to the Upper Peninsula - a trip that included a fundraising event in Marquette - and returned downstate to reassure people that he was aware and in charge.

His administration certainly did not want a repeat of last winter, when Snyder was excoriated for not, at first, being visible during a powerful ice storm that knocked out electricity to big swaths of the state. We should note as well, however, that the governor’s Democratic challenger, Mark Schauer, was also not particularly visible during that ice storm.

So, this week, Governor Snyder flew south by helicopter, surveyed the damage and talked to the media. It was this latter part of his trip - speaking on WJR’s The Frank Beckman Show - that the Governor tried for a little empathy. “I’ve been through a lot of things like that… We just recently had holes in our roof from storm damage to our lake house, in terms of, yeah, we have a vacation place, and I had a limb come down from holes in the roof, had water running through the place. Those experiences are not pleasant ones, and we had to take some trees down,” the Governor said, trying to go for the common touch, the ‘I feel your pain’ explanation.

They used to say that the definition of a recession was when your neighbor lost his job, and a depression was when you lost yours.

Well, after this week’s monumental Detroit-area rainstorm and flood, we now have a new definition for our dictionary of popular economics. You can say that wasteful government spending is when Washington or Lansing helps someone else.

Proper allocation of scarce resources is when they help -- you.

That may sound like a joke, but all too many people subconsciously feel that way.

You need only drive through the streets of communities like blue-collar Warren and more affluent Huntington Woods to get a sense of the scope of this week’s destruction.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has called on Washington for assistance, saying “if the federal government can help flood-damaged communities in various countries, I think they can help flood damage in the city of Warren.”

Good luck with that.

A flooded freeway in Royal Oak, Michigan
User: BGilbow / Flickr

Monday’s monster thunderstorm in Metro Detroit was the second-heaviest single day of rainfall since Michigan started keeping records.

The rainstorm didn't just close freeways and roads and flood basements, it focused attention back on the often-overlooked problems with our transportation infrastructure.

Jeff Cranson is director of communications for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“It is a good thing now that people realized that we’ve got a number of depressed freeways in Detroit,” says Cranson.

user BGilbow / Flickr

The Michigan Department of Transportation announced yesterday that "nearly all freeways" have been reopened after record-breaking flooding in metro Detroit this past Monday (August 11). 

Today we hear news that two lanes of I-94 will close because of pavement buckling that might be related to Monday's downpour.

The right two lanes on eastbound I-94 near Warren Ave. will be closed according to the Detroit News.

Here's a map showing that location: