Detroit experienced 7 inches of rain in the early morning hours of June 26, 2021. The result was impassable freeways and flooded homes.
President Joe Biden declared the storm a major disaster. But it was just one of the rain events last summer that left metro Detroiters with basements full of water that ruined hot water tanks, carpeting, furniture and more.
With the rainy season upon us again, Bridge Detroit reporter Jena Brooker looked into what Detroit residents can do to prepare for more flooding. For starters, she says there are a number of things that Detroit homeowners can take care of themselves.
“The easiest would be making sure that your basement drain is clear and the catch basins in the street are free of debris,” Brooker says. Homeowners can also disconnect downspouts that may be tied to pipes that lead directly to a drain or to the driveway; this will reroute them to the lawn where the grass can soak up all of the rainwater that the gutters collect.
For bigger projects, there are programs like the City of Detroit’s Basement Backup Protection program. Brooker says residents in 11 neighborhoods that experience recurrent flooding are eligible. The city will send out a licensed plumber to inspect the house and suggest services, like disconnecting downspouts or installing a backwater valve or sump pump, Brooker says. The contractor will then make those repairs to the home, up to $6,000 per household.
Brooker points out that the contractor has to be provided by the city. “Homeowners can’t contract their own plumber and then get reimbursed for the cost,” she says.
There’s also the Detroit Home Repair Fund, which aims to help low-income residents fix their roofs, stairs, windows, drywall, plumbing and foundations. While it is not specifically for flooding, the city has said it will accept flooding-related applications.
Getting flood insurance is another way residents can protect themselves with more intense rain events on the horizon.
“Climate experts are … saying to expect extreme flooding like we saw last year and probably more than once,” Brooker says. “Most homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flood-related damages. So to get ahead of the flooding that’s likely to occur, experts are recommending that Detroiters look into insuring their home for flooding specifically.”