By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
Although some residents were dissatisfied with the answers from city officials, Lincoln Park’s city council began issuing checks to cover damages from flooded basements.
During Monday’s city council meeting, angry taxpayers demanded but did not get further admission from the council or Mayor Frank Vaslo that the city was also responsible for damages from the second of two flooding incidents.
The first, on July 28, was declared the result of a faulty switch at the Emmons Street pumping station. The mechanical failure after a day of intense rainfall sent water and sewage into dozens of basements, primarily along the city’s southeastern roads. More than 150 homeowner claims were filed with City Hall, and officials began issuing checks — each typically in excess of $4,000 — during Monday’s meeting.
Less than three weeks later, a rainy Aug. 9 initiated another, less widespread, bout of flooded basements. All told, City Administrator Steve Duchane said more than 17 claims have been filed.
The second bout, however, is still being investigated. Duchane said there was “no apparent mechanical failure in the system,” which was reviewed by Detroit-based civil engineers Wade-Trim.
For damage from the first wave of flooding, city officials released a statement indicating that the amounts given to residents underscored, “the seriousness of the situation and the commitment of city officials to follow through with their assurances that steps would be taken to address such losses in a ‘timely and fair manner.”
More than 180 claims remained to be inspected, for which the city has contracted Sterling Heights-based adjusters Crawford & Co.
Funds paid to residents were taken from the city’s Water/Sewer Utility Fund. The city’s insurance did not cover the mechanical failure, and Lincoln Park was not eligible for state or federal assistance.
It remains to be seen if claims filed for flooding from the Aug. 9 storm will be similarly paid. Residents were less than receptive to hear that the second round of flooding was an act of nature and not the city’s responsibility.
“We don’t have anything other than a surcharged system and high level of rainfall in a short period of time,” Duchane said when the claims began pouring into city hall.
City officials said Monday that the claims will be processed, but unlikely to be settled as with the previous claims.
A suggestion was made during the meeting to have the city provide low- or no-interest loans to homeowners affected by the Aug. 9 flooding, but Duchane said that such a program was not within the city’s legal authority. City officials said that other options, including U.S. Housing and Urban Development Community Block Grant funds, were being explored.
Residents needing to find information on filing a claim should go to www.lincolnpark.govoffice.com.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].)