Small number of flooding issues around Detroit still means headaches for some as storm hits

Posted at 7:50 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 19:49:26-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Over on Lawton Street near Puritan on Detroit's west side, when it rains a little, it looks like it has poured a lot. That's because neighbors say the street floods there even when water has drained away from other nearby streets.

And when any snow melts and temperatures dip below freezing, things only get worse.

"It's always madness," said Arielle Belcher whose car was stuck in ice earlier this week.

Then warmer temperatures melted some of the ice, creating for a lot of water with no place to go.

City officials said a buildup of ice appeared to be blocking the water from draining into the catch basins, but they acknowledged that it may take an engineer to get to the bottom of the regular flooding on the street.

Still, on Thursday, city officials said they only had a relatively small number of flooded areas on the streets of Detroit.

Gary Brown, Director of the City of Detroit's Water and Sewerage Department, said most of the flooding crews are remedying was due to debris covering catch basins and an excess of water due to frozen grassy areas where water can't penetrate so more of it ends up on the streets.

"We're asking residents now, if you have the opportunity, if you can, and you see that the catch basins are blocked, please help us out and clean them," Brown said. "I have two in front of my house and I make sure that they stay clean so that the water can drain off."

But some folks living on Sheridan Street near Charlevoix on Detroit's east side suspect the problem is more than just leaves and trash on top of catch basins.

When asked what he thinks the problem is, Jim Hinton replied, "The drain. It's plugged all the time."

We borrowed a shovel and tried to remove any debris from the catch basin Hinton said was located near a fire hydrant, but it only seemed to be a small amount of mud and a lot of dirty water that just wasn't going down the drain.

Further down Sheridan Street at East Vernor Highway, we could easily see the catch basin through the dirty water and there was no trash or leaves on top of it, but the water still wasn't going down.

Donald Tunda has lived on Sheridan for about five years. "From what I understand from the neighbors, this has been going on for years and years and years."

Tunda said the flooding we saw Thursday can also get a whole lot worse.

"This ain't nothing," he said. "This right here is nothing at all."

Action News reached out to a spokesperson for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department regarding the catch basins that have standing water on top of them.

He said it appears the catch basins are clogged.

When trash, leaves, and yard debris are left on the street, they enter the basins and eventually turn to compost and clog the drains, the spokesperson said.

This is why we encourage residents to clean in front of their property, especially in the fall and spring, he added.