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Dearborn leaders address flooding while calling out lack of accountability

Posted at 5:29 AM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 06:44:49-04

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — The fallout continues in Dearborn over flooding that caused widespread damage to people's homes and left some drivers stranded.

The city council president called an emergency meeting last night, but the mayor did not attend and hasn't responded to 7 Action News for comment, but the police chief did.

Thousands of residents are without power, and streets are lined with water-damaged items from their home, waiting to get it picked up by trash collectors.

Last night, City Council President Susan Dabaja called an emergency meeting to address severe flooding issues. Absent from that meeting, the mayor who's declining to speak with us and answer questions.

"I called the Mayor's office Monday morning. Guess what, it directed me to voicemail," Mike Hacham said.

Hacham called out Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reily and said a lack of accountability and proper infrastructure work have led to countless flooded basements and extensive damage to property.

"Was this preventable? Of course. We threw millions of dollars at failed CSO projects. Our neighborhoods look like war zones. Our investments are gone," Hackham added.

He's alluding to the filthy furniture and other debris soaked with sewer water lining the streets. Not what citizens expected after agreeing to pay higher taxes.

The mayor declined comment to 7 Action News but his spokesperson released a statement admitting their system is only designed to handle three inches of rain within 24 hours.

A recent project to separate sewer and storm water was done, but they've estimated the cost of an ideal fix to be $500 million.

"I think there's a big question as to why and how this happened," State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, who is also a candidate for mayor, said.

Hammoud said he's worked with a coalition of volunteers cleaning out hundreds of homes.

"We keep hearing this happens once in several hundred years. The reality is in the last few years, Dearborn has flooded several times," Hammoud said.

"Since 2014 it's happened 3 times. So it's not 100 years and one time," Osama Siblani said.

Police Chief Ron Haddad agreed to speak with us when the mayor wouldn't.

"We're doing everything we can to mitigate the last rainfall and flood," Haddad said. "I talk to the mayor 3-4 times a day. Not sure where he's at this moment."

"The city has called for the national guard and we're releasing info in real-time on social media," City Council President Dabaja said.

"Right now, it's extremely frustrating. The mayor has been a little bit quiet," Councilmember Leslie Herrick added.

Once again, the mayor's office is requesting more than a million dollars in funding to manage after the fact.

You can report flood damage by texting the word "flood" to 313-635-3900 or by visiting www.cityofdearborn.org.