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What's to blame for the weekend flooding? Climate change and aging infrastructure

Posted at 5:50 AM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 08:12:07-04

(WXYZ) — The flooding fallout continues from over the weekend. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is blaming climate change and under-funded infrastructure for the devastating floods.

One local expert is weighing in, saying what we saw this past weekend is not surprising.

Heavy rain is not an unfamiliar sight or sound, but rain like what we saw over the weekend wasn't always considered normal, according to a climate and engineering expert from the University of Michigan.

"When you really start to see the precipitation perhaps deviate from its historical record is the mid 90s. With increased temperature, it's able to hold more moisture, so when it does rain, it rains hard," Professor Richard Rood said.

But for one night of rain to cause miles of standing water on the freeway, Rood said metro Detroit's infrastructure also plays a role.

"In many cases, they're aging and in many cases, they're not being well-maintained as well," Rood said.

At a press conference on Monday, Gary Brown, the director of the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department, said the flooding was not a maintenance issue, it's a global warming issue that caused a capacity issue.

"We are seeing infrastructure across the country not be able to meet the needs of climate change in 2021. This is real. This is the confluence of under-investment and climate change," Brown said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ran on a platform of fixing the roads, which requires upgrading sewage drainage and other infrastructure that have created expensive and devastating issues for residents.

Rood said moving forward, we need to reduce our risk and increase our resilience.