DETROIT (WXYZ) — “When you go downstairs, you can smell it,” said Estell Jones.
The foul smell of damp flooring and moist furniture keeps Jones away from his basement on Gilbert Street.
“My wife doesn't want me to go down there,” he adds.
For his safety and his health. Breathing is tough for the 69-year-old.
“I have COPD and asthma,” said Jones.
He can’t clear out the large furniture in his basement that including his washer and dryer and 3 air filters. Jones says he’s depressed.
“Because I lost almost everything that I have down there. It took me a long time to save money to get washer and dryers,” he explains.
Starting next week, the city of Detroit says they will go into communities to help neighbors like Mr. Jones.
“We are asking them to please set aside all of the things that you want to go out. We want to help you get it out of your homes so you can get it cleaned and sanitized,” said Gary Brown.
Brown is the director of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.
He says they will start cleaning the homes of people who have a city poverty tax exemption and belong in one of the following groups:
“You are a senior, or disabled or you have children under 10 in your home, you will be prioritized first,” Brown adds.
In Mayor Mike Duggan’s recent press briefing he stated that the city will work to make sure homes are safe from health risks such as sewage and mold. They will also remove debris, damaged drywall, tile, clean, sanitize, and dry.
“If you have the dollars to be able to do it and you have insurance, you should get it done and recoup your dollars from FEMA,” Brown adds.
This will only happen if President Joe Biden declares the flooding from two weeks ago a federal disaster.
Brown says, “we are very confident that we have more damage than we did in 2014 when President Obama declared an emergency.”
As people in the lower east side communities wait to see what happens, Brown says you should fill out this water damage claim form.
“If my sewer line was broken, DWSD line, and there was a defect in the system, you will be made whole by the water department,” adds Brown.
Under state law, Detroit residents who have flood damage have 45 days to file with DWSD.
Leaders say they will use the claim to jump-start the FEMA process if the President declares a disaster.
Until then, Mr. Jones says he’s going to try his best to stay positive.
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