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St. Clair Shores residents hope state's $4.7B plan addresses chronic flooding

Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-15 17:43:35-04

ST. CLAIR SHORES, Mich. (WXYZ) — In something that's relatively rare these days in politics: The Michigan Legislature recently passed a bipartisan $4.7 billion for infrastructure.

It’s some of the biggest infrastructure investments in state history, according to the governor.

Some in St. Clair Shores are hoping the additional $72 million coming to Macomb County will prevent what they’ve endured.

“I go down there and I get to the top stop, and I open the door and there's like 7 inches of water and I am, and I panic like, I don't. Why is this happening?” said Kristine Crook, who had a damage by water.

It happened because the late June rain last year overwhelmed pump stations.

The excess water had to go somewhere. In St. Clair Shores, that destination was Crook’s basement.

“You know, I didn't do anything for that to happen. I had everything in place to prevent this from happening, to have coverage if it did happen and you know, and then nobody wanted to take responsibility,” Crook said of insurance and the city.

This is not the first time Macomb County has had water issues and because of that, a volunteer committee in St. Clair Shores was formed long ago to address them.

“There's a lot of needs. Just because this is a large infrastructure area, it's built up. There's a lot of water going into the drains that are contaminated with just, you know, vehicle waste and just a variety of those items,” said Mark Balon, who's a part of the Waterfront Environmental Committee of St. Clair Shores.

Much of the water, and at times sewage, ends up in Lake St. Clair.

Just a month ago 7 Action News reporter Jim Kiertzner pressed federal and local leaders after they announced $10 million in funds for water system improvements.

“These are the discharges,” Kiertzner said as he showed a picture at the press conference.

“As I told you in technical terms: Bad,” Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said.

“Yeah, really bad,” U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, said.

“So, is what you’re announcing today still just a Band-Aid?” asked Kiertzner.

“If you say we should do nothing until we can do all of it at the same time, then we’re going to have a whole lot more pictures like that,” said Stabenow.

We asked one of the lead lawmakers for the latest round of funding the same, is it enough?

WXYZ’s Brian Abel said, “The amount of federal funding versus the amount that's needed to truly address this issue seems to be far apart.”

“Yeah, we've got a lot of work to do. Look, this is a problem that's been affecting this community and many others for generations, so we can't fix it overnight. But this is the biggest step in the right direction that we've taken in a very long time,” Rep. Kevin Hertel, D-St. Clair Shores, said.

For Macomb, the cash, a mix of federal and state funds, will go to projects like improving the Chapaton station with a replacement pump.

Martin Drain Improvement and the piece of infrastructure that led to this the Fraser sinkhole.

“We all remember the failed interceptor that occurred a few years ago,” Hertel said. "And we're going to continue to make sure that that promise addressed as well.”

As for Crook’s situation, Abel asked, “Can this funding directly prevent what she experienced?”

“I think so. It's going to be a step in the right direction, right? We're not going to end every basement flood this with this one bill, but we're going to do everything we can to make sure we're addressing it,” said Hertel.

Crook hopes those charged with ensuring our infrastructure works are looking past tomorrow.

“If the city in this county and the state are not thinking about the future, you know, we're living in a time where climate change is rapidly changing our weather. And if we just fix it up to today's standards, then we're still going to have this problem again,” Crook said.

She also hopes governmental entities will take responsibility when the systems don’t work.

She was finally able to get help with her basement cost once the Federal Emergency Management Agency added St. Clair Shores to the disaster area.

For more information, the St. Clair Shores Waterfront Environmental Committee commits to the conservation, protection, safe use and enjoyment of Lake St. Clair for residents.