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Victims say floods must be a wake-up call

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-30 18:14:57-04

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. (WXYZ) — When the rain started falling, people in Grosse Pointe Park say it sounded different than most rains.

“It was like taking a bucket and pouring it. Well, that went on for about 4 hours,” said Cynthia Vogt as she described the rain that happened before sewage back flowed into her basement.

“We have experienced, excuse my language, one heck of a mess,” said John Vogt as crews worked at their home on Middlesex.

Feet of water filled their basement, destroying everything from their furnace to their water heater. So many people suffered damage that disaster restoration companies are bringing in crews from out of state.

“Hang in there. We got about 200 calls in 24 hours. And it has not been easy. We are running on zero sleep. We are calling in workers from out of state,” said Joe Cipriano of ConstrucTeam.

“This wasn’t a flooding issue. It was an issue of municipal infrastructure. One of the municipalities that our sewer system is connected to, in 2016, one leg of that failed. This year another leg of it failed but the result is the same,” said Sandy Baruah, the President of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

For Baruah, the result was a flooded basement. The water got so high this time his fridge floated until it fell over.

When 7 Action News talks to local authorities they respond by saying that most municipal systems in Metro Detroit are built to handle three inches of rain in 24-hours. Baruah says it seems that is no longer good enough.

7 Action News took a look at Detroit-area rainfall statistics collected by the National Weather Service Weather Station currently located at Detroit Metro-Airport.

Between 1879 and 1997 we got more than three inches of rain 11 times. That averages out to once every 10.7 years. Since 1998 it has happened 5 times - an average of once every 4.6 years.

That means rains heavier than our infrastructure is built for have been happening more than twice as often as they used to in recent years. If that trend continues it is clear that our infrastructure may set people up for more extensive damage.

“The reason the Detroit Regional Chamber has had infrastructure on its list of priorities for a long time is that we have disinvested in our shared infrastructure across our state and municipalities for literally decades. We are all living off the infrastructure that our grandparents built in the 50s and 60s,” said Baruah.