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Crews to start flood cleaning for Detroit’s most vulnerable residents

7/13/21

Detroit Free Press

By Dana Afana 

City crews this week will begin helping Detroit’s most vulnerable residents clean up from recent widespread flooding.

Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department will send crews to sanitize basements for some of those who were most affected by the June 26 flooding. The city received more than 23,000 reports of flood damage, with 1,000 being dire cases, according to a news release.

“Our responsibility is to help our most vulnerable residents during any crisis and the flooding is no different,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement Tuesday. “We have taken steps to get crews ready this week. And, our renters have the right to live in a safe environment with hot water and a working furnace. We will make sure that landlords in our city are held accountable.”

Homeowners who still have water, mold and other damage can request a city inspector if they are poverty tax-exempt customers and 65 years old or older, or have a disability, or have children 10 years old and younger in the home.

Within 48 hours, an inspector from the Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) or Detroit Health Department will visit the home to determine what needs to be done to ensure the basement is safe.

After the inspection, a contractor will perform an assessment before cleaning and sanitizing. Work will only protect residents from health risks, such as sewage and mold. It could include removing debris, damaged drywall and tile as well as cleaning, sanitizing and drying the space, according to a news release.

Duggan met with President Joe Biden earlier this month urging him to declare the Detroit area a major disaster area. If Biden makes the declaration, it would unlock Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds for anyone who lost property or faced damage to their homes.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday wrote a letter to Biden requesting that he declares Michigan a major disaster from damages due to widespread flooding.

“We’re not asking for it to be a disaster. It needs to be a major disaster because the major disaster declaration is what gets individual assistance to homeowners,” Duggan said on Tuesday.

FEMA inspectors assess damages before the governor requests a federal disaster declaration.

In the meantime, Duggan urges residents to file claims, and clean up and repair their homes if they’re able to. Anyone can report damages or seek assistance by calling 313-267-8000, or file a claim online.

Duggan is also cracking down on landlord compliance. The mayor will begin issuing $250-per-day fines starting July 20 to landlords who refuse to respond to flood damage. Landlords are responsible for cleaning out debris, sanitizing flood-damaged properties and ensuring water heaters and furnaces are functioning.

“A week from now, we’re going to be publicizing a number where if you feel like your landlord hasn’t been responsive enough, BSEED will come out and inspect,” Duggan told reporters Tuesday.

Residents who are able to clean their basements should move debris to the curb. Crews are continuing to pick up about 1,000 tons of items a day. Residents in flood-damaged areas will not be ticketed through the crisis.

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