Bridge Detroit: Flood prevention relief trickles in

City plans to use pandemic relief to help with home repairs. Out of 2,000-plus homeowners who have applied, so far 27 have been helped.

Detroit home affected by basement flooding.

It’s been more than a year since heavy rain flooded thousands of basements in Detroit. This year, city leaders said they would use federal pandemic relief funds to help protect homes in 11 flood-prone neighborhoods.

The Basement Backup Protection Program offers eligible homeowners up to $6,000 toward repairs such as disconnecting downspouts or installing backwater valves and sump pumps.

“Climate scientists are saying southeast Michigan is definitely going to experience increased flooding in the future.” — Jena Brooker, Bridge Detroit

Bridge Detroit journalist Jena Brooker says so far about 1% of those who’ve applied have been helped.

“There were 2,242 homeowners that applied for the program,” she says. “Twenty-seven homes have been inspected and installations have been made.”

Bridge Detroit: Thousands of Detroiters wonder if they will get city flood prevention help

The Aviation Subdivision and Victoria Park neighborhoods were the first areas to be eligible for BBPP funding. Brooker says homeowners she interviewed feel frustrated.

Gary Brown stands next to a presentation against a white wall
Gary Brown, director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, does a presentation on the city’s flood repair program in February 2022.

“This isn’t the only thing they’re getting no answers on,” she says. “A lot of them also applied for assistance or filed claims with FEMA, the Great Lakes Water Authority or the city.”

Brooker says homeowners submitted more than 100,000 flood damage claims in 2021. Thousands are still waiting for a response or have been denied.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has made some adjustments to make it easier to apply.

“Homeowners were required to make a 10% deposit on however much the repairs would cost before the contractor would actually come out and make the installations,” she says. “Now they only have to pay a $100 flat fee.”

Brooker says the city also plans to hire two full-time people to coordinate between plumbers and homeowners to start work as soon as their applications have been approved.

“They’re also planning to do the installations on the same day as the inspection,” she says.

Related: City of Detroit launches program to help homeowners with flooding repairs

The city has also published a handbook on changes homeowners can make while they’re waiting for approval.

“Those include disconnecting their downspouts and making sure catch basins are free of debris,” Brooker says. Buying flood insurance may also help, since it’s likely to be a recurring problem.

“Climate scientists are saying southeast Michigan is definitely going to experience increased flooding in the future,” she says.

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  • Pat Batcheller
    Pat Batcheller is a host and Senior News Editor for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news, traffic and weather updates during Morning Edition. He is an amateur musician.