Duggan asks for volunteers to combat Detroit flooding

Volunteers fill sandbags at Alfred Brush Ford Park on Detroit's east riverfront | Ken Coleman

As Detroit is facing even more rain this week amidst flooding, Mayor Mike Duggan has put out the call for people to help their neighbors.

Duggan asked for volunteers to sign up to help fill and place thousands of bags of sand along key sections of the seawall to effectively raise their height. The city has created a weblink where people can sign up to assist.

Duggan gives his State of the City address, March 5, 2019 | Ken Coleman

“We know that the [Detroit] river usually crests in early June and we already are seeing levels much higher than what is normal for that time,” said Duggan. “We expect the levels to continue to rise over the next several weeks and we are asking for volunteers to join with city employees and myself to come to the aid of these residents.”

Most of metro Detroit is under a flood watch for Thursday evening through Friday morning. Up to three inches of rain has saturated several  communities and another inch or more is possible.

Since Monday, higher than normal water levels in the Great Lakes, exacerbated by recent rain, have contributed to 30-year-high levels on Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, pushing water over areas of the canal seawalls that are insufficiently high, the city of Detroit posted on its website.

“Maintenance and upkeep of the seawall is the responsibility of individual homeowners and several areas of the walls are lower than needed, providing opportunities for water to breach the wall and flood entire sections of the neighborhood,” the city wrote. “While the city’s storm sewers have so far been able to handle the large volume of water, some homes have started to flood as water travels from the canals across the private property toward the streets and sewers.”

Outer Drive in Northwest Detroit | Ken Coleman

The city of Dearborn Heights has asked Michigan officials for a state of emergency declaration, according to WXYZ-TV in Detroit.

Several schools in Wayne County were closed on Wednesday due to nearby flooding, including Allen Park Public Schools, as well as classrooms in Dearborn Heights, Lincoln Park, Melvindale, Romulus and Taylor.

Meanwhile, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) tweeted on Thursday that M-39, the Southfield Freeway, remains closed at Outer Drive for flooding and pump house is working at full capacity.

The Michigan State Police (MSP) also is offering continual advice and updates for area residents. MSP tweeted on Wednesday and reminds drivers “it only takes about 6 inches of water to lose control of your car – and 12 inches to start floating. If your car stalls, stay inside and call 911.”

Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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