By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — The Federal Emergency Management Agency hit the ground in Dearborn Heights to speak with residents most effected by flooding after the June 25 rainfall.
Preliminary damage assessments were being completed by assessment teams that collected information on the number of houses damaged, along with community impact and severity July 7.
Mayor Bill Bazzi said the assessments possibly will be taken to President Joe Biden to declare the flooding a national disaster to try to get FEMA funding.
In a July 4 letter, Bazzi wrote to Biden regarding support for Dearborn Heights residents.
“Mister President, our city needs emergency resources to help clear these residents’ homes, make them habitable, and remove the damaged property from their curbsides,” Bazzi wrote. “We are working around the clock with extremely limited resources compared to the amount of work that needs to be done. These residents are in dire need of relief, and NOW!”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Wayne County due to the impacts of the heavy rainfall, flooding and sewage water inside homes and outdoors June 26.
A 2-1-1 hotline service was established by Wayne County for residents who need help cleaning up flood-damaged debris. Operators are on duty daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will connect residents with volunteer and faith-based organizations that are able to assist with debris cleanup.
Operators cannot assist with financial questions or other issues not related to debris removal.
During a July 6 study session, Emergency Manager Lee Gavin said the city turned 1,150 surveys from residents impacted by flooding over to Wayne County.
“We asked our residents if they have not yet filled out a survey form, it is available when you come in the doors of city hall or online,” he said. “We’re continuing to put those in the database. Like I said, we sent everything to Wayne County and they’re moving it up the ladder to the state and then they’ll go to the federal side.”
GFL Environmental has been working to collect regular trash and recyclables along with flood debris from residential curbsides, including providing service on the weekends.
GFL is expected to go through the entire city one more time for houses that were missed or for those residents who brought out flood debris later on.
Gavin said that if the flooding is declared a disaster, a meeting place will be set up for residents to speak with FEMA representatives regarding financial assistance. In the meantime, residents can contact their insurance company to file claims.
At the study session, Councilman Zouher Abdel-Hak asked Bazzi what is being done to resolve the flooding and sewage water issues in Dearborn Heights.
Bazzi said that the day after the storm, the city had an emergency meeting with the county and state along with state police, senators and congressional delegates who attended virtually.
“Two things,” he said. “One is with the survey. What they want to do is they’re trying to gather the assessments turned into the county. The county takes these assessments with all the homes, we turned in ours this morning, and even after we turned them in we’re still getting about 100 assessments. Once the county gives them to the state, the state complies them and has to advocate through the federal level and try to declare this as a national disaster so they can get FEMA money.”
“The second thing is, there is something that was put on by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib trying to get funding to do more research, investigation especially on the Ecorse Creek. So, I did see something that was put in place and they did ask for funding — it’s about close to $2 million to do the investigation and bring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers again to the area to see what they can do.”
The city’s engineer is also looking at some issues and inspecting sewers throughout the city, Bazzi said.
“He is working with our congressional delegates as well trying to give them feedback,” Bazzi said. “He is also trying to figure out a solution as well.”
Crestwood High School also suffered damage due to the flooding along with power issues. Approximately 85 to 90 percent of the school had water damage or water in the building. A special meeting was held June 29 by the Crestwood Schools Board of Education where an update was given.
The district was notified of the flooding by the alarm company June 26 when employees responded and went through the entire building.
There was up to four feet of water in the boiler room, between six to 12 inches of water in the back loading dock, three to four inches of water in the classrooms and halls, and water in all the tunnels under the building.
Damage includes the orchestra pit in the high school auditorium which was full of water and the wood floor in the gymnasium which initially had no water, but then water was observed the next day.
Through the district’s insurance, a restoration company began mitigating the water over the weekend after the flood, and electrical was worked on the following Monday after things began to dry.
No damage was reported at building within Dearborn Heights District No. 7, Supt. Jennifer Mast said.
For more information or flood resources go to www.ci.dearborn-heights.mi.us.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])