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Following Wayne County flooding, officials advise caution during cleanup

Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
A Jefferson-Chalmers canal

After more than 3.5 inches of rain fell across the region this past week, prompting Governor Gretchen Whitmer to declare a state of emergency in Wayne County on May 2, the Wayne County Health Department is now urging caution as residents start to clean up flooded basements and structures.

“This emergency doesn’t end because the rain stopped,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans in a statement. “Wayne County will continue to support residents recovering [from] flood damage as best we can and provide resources as they become available. It’s important that flood cleanups are as thorough as possible to avoid long-term problems like mold.”

The flooding has largely impacted Detroit's Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood. According to an earlier report from Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek, the neighborhood has several canals which cut through it and connect to the Detroit River. Near record high water levels in the Great Lakes system have pushed up the water levels of those canals, and the heavy winds and rainfalls this past week only exacerbated the situation.

After seeking volunteers to help with sandbagging and barrier building, the City of Detroit announced yesterday it was no longer in need of help, due to an outpouring of support. 

The Wayne County Health Department advises residents to wear protective gear inside flooded basements and buildings. They also recommend cleaning and drying out a flooded area 24 to 48 hours after flooding to help prevent the growth of mold. A full list of suggestions can be found on the Wayne County website. 

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has also advised residents "to be on the alert for con artists looking to take advantage of victims desperate to quickly repair damage," according to a statement. 

"Disasters take an emotional, physical, and financial toll and, understandably, homeowners want to repair the damage and get back to a sense of normalcy,” Nessel said in a statement. “They need quick answers and quick solutions. Unfortunately, this is also when criminals and scam artists will travel to and target disaster sites to exploit otherwise careful consumers."

For tips on avoiding scam artists looking to make money from those dealing with emergency repairs, Nessel's office has put together a guide, which can be found at "After the Storm."

Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.
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