DETROIT (AP) — Steady rain drenched the Detroit area Friday, flooding highways and raising the anxiety of residents whose basements were wrecked by sewage during a tremendous storm three weeks ago.
A downtown ramp to M-10, known as the Lodge Freeway, was below water and closed, while sections of Interstate 94 in Detroit were also flooded. I-96 have lanes blocked because of the high water, and low-lying communities near the Detroit River are seeing flooding as well.
The National Weather Service posted a flood warning for Wayne County until late afternoon as well as flood advisories for Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties.
“When will this end?” Chelsea Parr posted on a Facebook page for Grosse Pointe Farms residents.
Indeed, people in the Grosse Pointe communities posted video of water rising in basements from floor drains, geysers in streets and manhole covers rising and falling, apparently from pressure under ground.
“Beyond angry,” said Sarah Peruski, standing at the top of the stairs to a flooded basement.
Detroit urged residents to clear catch basins in the streets. The city’s Water and Sewerage Department had 10 sewer cleaning trucks out in the neighborhoods to address street flooding and basement backups, department director Gary Brown said in a statement. Dearborn blasted an outdoor emergency siren to warn people about the rain.
In the Detroit area, highways are vulnerable in any long rain event because they are below ground and depend on pumps to get rid of water.
The pumps were working so far, but it “only takes one plastic bag” to block a drain, said Diane Cross, a spokeswoman at the Michigan Department of Transportation.
She told WDET the Southfield Freeway (M-39) in Dearborn is like a bowl ready to be filled.
“Nearby river, the nearby Ecorse Creek when that overflows, and then that runs off down into the lower end 39 to freeways lower than the ground level. That’s why it accumulates there and that’s actually a safety thing for the basements in the neighborhood. It doesn’t help everybody.”
The freeways will remain vulnerable in heavy rainfall because the pumps can’t keep up with the amount of water coming in at once.
The rain fell a day after President Joe Biden declared a disaster in Michigan due to flood damage from late June. Thousands of basements in Detroit and some suburbs were swamped with water and sewage when more than 6 inches fell in just a few hours.
Power disruptions stalled pumps operated by the Great Lakes Water Authority, sending sewage back through pipes. Piles of possessions from contaminated basements sat on curbs for days before being hauled away by weary crews.
The agency insisted Thursday that it’s “ready for the storm.”