Record-breaking rainfall causes flooding in Wayne County

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Wayne County has been taken by storm, literally. One stormy day caused power outages, flooding, and property damage throughout the county. Bianca Stokes had experienced flooding in her Detroit home before, but it never gets easier.

“As far as the flooding, our basement hasn’t flooded since 2014, when we had the last big flood,” said Stokes, a resident of the west side of Detroit.

Stokes’s basement took the brunt of the damage. She said that the outdoor flooding deterred her from leaving her home and the lack of the city response left her neighborhood to depend on each other by routinely clearing the drain of debris.

Just northeast of Detroit in Harper Woods, Ayana Pettway said the scene wasn’t any different.

“… Our basement was flooded really bad, we had about two and a half feet, maybe three feet of water in our basement,” said Pettway, a Harper Woods resident.

Debris awaits collection after torrential rain and flooding. Photo courtesy of Ayana Pettway.

Pettway said that though her street did not flood, her husband’s commute has been completely altered due to flooding. 

“He works for Ford Motor Co., and their particular facility sits right off of 94 and that Michigan Avenue area where the flooding was really bad … those freeways are actually still closed,” said Pettway

During the DONcast city meeting on June 28, Gary Brown, the director of Detroit Water and Sewage Department, said that the department is overwhelmed but working on responding to citizen concerns. 

“With this much rain, there was nowhere for the water to go other than to flood streets and basements. If highways had not flooded, all that water would have flowed to the system at the same time. Nearly the entire city of Detroit would have been under water,” said Brown. 

Wayne County received a record amount of flooding; up to 7 inches of rain fell in some areas in under 24 hours, with the bulk of it falling within five hours. The city of Detroit estimates thousands of people were left with flooded basements and without power as a result of the intense storms.

Andrew Pineda, the co-owner of the bookstore 27th Letter Books said that the city has been slow to respond to the aftermath of the storm.

“When the power went out, and the sump pump stopped running, that’s when… we kind of had this situation where rain’s coming in at the top but also water was coming up from the ground,” said Pineda. 

Flooding occurs in the basement of 27th Letter Books, recorded on June 26. Video courtesy of Andrew Pineda. 

Pineda lives above the southwest Detroit bookstore, so the flooding not only impacted his business but also his home. He said the first concern was the bookstore inventory because the books were against the walls, where the water first began leaking. However, when the sump pump went out, the basement flooding became a concern. 

“… The bottom floor is more so storage, and so we have a lot of fixtures … a lot of things were elevated but we did lose some fixtures that got some water damage on it,” Pineda said, “A couple of shelves, some tables, different like book stands and things like that.” 

Pineda said his neighborhood has come together to assist each other during the emergency while they wait for assistance from the city.

“… The trash pickup and the disposal is definitely backed up … Last weekend it was a lot of walking around, a lot of checking in and saying ‘Hey, do y’all need help with this?’,” Pineda said, “I think events like this, everybody kind of comes together … I’m just grateful for the community in that sense.”

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