How Prepared Is Metro Detroit For a Major Weather Disaster?

Flooding in Metro Detroit in 2014

Hurricane Harvey’s devastation this week reminds us of a few things. That Mother Nature relents for no person and no political agenda. That water is both a driving and a destructive force in human existence. That we’re all vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters, no matter how we plan or prepare.

Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson spends an hour talking about our readiness here in Southeast Michigan for a major weather event, as well as how climate change and the Great Lakes play into the rainfall and flooding we see here. 

It is clear that extreme events are happening,” says Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Deputy Director and COO Mark Van Port Fleet.

Michigan’s infrastructure is aged in many locations… it costs a significant amount of money to deal with underground structures, in particular. And so we have to make good strategic decisions about where we place our money and what the risks are.”

Jake Neher/WDET

Gov. Rick Snyder (left) and Warren Mayor Jim Fouts (right) tour flood damage in 2014

Henderson also speaks with first responders and agencies that coordinate disaster management efforts locally about how prepared they are for a major weather event.

All of your local first responders are preparing for these things pre-event,” says West Bloomfield Fire Department Chief Greg Flynn. He says communities are also coordinating together on plans for responding to a weather disaster.

We’re able to now, instead of just mobilizing the 24 firefighters in West Bloomfield on any given day, we’re able to bring in hundreds of first responders trained in EMS and technical rescue from the tri-county area and even further.”

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also joins the show to talk about how the federal government is approaching massive natural disaster prevention and relief

This is a moment to talk about what is really happening with our climate and our weather,” says Stabenow. “Flood levels, rain levels, things that we have never seen… The climate is changing… The severity of it is what is changing.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Flooding in Metro Detroit in 2014

Flooding in Metro Detroit in 2014


Image credit: Michigan State Police Emergency Management Division

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.  

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