DETROIT, Mich. (WXYZ) — Our area's infrastructure issues have been on full display this week, from potholes to flooding. They’ve really been on display for years, especially back in June when we saw our highways like this, and for many, it was a one-two punch that they are still recovering from.
WXYZ’s Brian Abel asked Ronald Foster about his flooding situation, “Walk us through the process of what it's been like with your home being flooded.”
“Well, after the car flooded, it really was difficult to come back. The basement was flooded with rain coming in from the top,” explained flood victim Ronald Foster.
Just last week, on the day we talked with Foster again, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) approved his claim for his car. Roughly eight months after it was caught in the severe flooding event of late June.
It’s been headache after headache for the Detroiter. First, having to abandon his car, then the towing bill, and now, the waiting game continues with FEMA for the claim on his home.
“Water was coming in, a lot of mold at some point. A foul stench lost a lot of my appliances, things in the basement, just a total loss, really,” said Foster.
“I've been in constant contact with them, they always been giving me good information, and everything keeps me up,” said Foster. “A lot of things being outside their control with the bureaucracy, a lot of red tape is necessary. But it's been... it's been a journey!”
According to FEMA, nearly 2,000 households in Washtenaw and Wayne counties were on this journey with Ronald Foster.
Of that, roughly 19 % of people in those homes meet the threshold for poverty.
6% are under some federal assistance, more than 8 % were unemployed when the disaster hit.
The headaches for so many were only exacerbated by ongoing infrastructure issues showcased on the day we visited foster.
“We have busted pipe still down here. It is coming out of the cement in the ground and then right down here next to the tree where we have the pumps that filled last year right here," said Foster. "So, you can see where they busted pipes, a lot of things, how these situations are car. You see the whole process of how this situation can continue to occur without proper management and remedies and infrastructure being driven in here."
Foster is hoping the infrastructure improves so the frustrations can end.
“I think that honestly before we posturing anywhere else, we need to take care of our own infrastructure here locally to take care of our own roads, our own pipes, our own citizens here, and make sure that at least the people that are affected by disasters, in particular, FEMA recipients should not have to continue to go through red tape to get the help that they need,” said Foster.
Now all of this is playing out as lawmakers in Lansing hash out a budget with Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who has proposed more than $6 billion for infrastructure.
We should note we reached out to FEMA about why it's taken eight months for Ronald Foster’s claim.
They say they are unable to respond to media requests about specific individual cases due to federal privacy laws.