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Here's how to stay safe and get help if you're dealing with flooding in metro Detroit

Flooding in a Detroit neighborhood on June 26.
Courtesy of Cam Mills

Metro Detroit saw nearly seven inches of rain this weekend, causing massive flooding and power outages throughout the region. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced a state of emergency for Wayne County Saturday to help address threats to public health and safety related to the storm.

As of Monday morning, many highways and roads remain closed. Due to the amount of water, many pumping stations and sewer overflow facilities failed, causing flooding of many residential streets and basements. 

Even worse, more thunderstorms are expected throughout the region this week.

If you're in metro Detroit, here are some tips on how to stay safe during storms and flooding:

Avoid touching, swimming, or driving in standing water

Standing water in the streets can be extremely unsanitary, filled with debris, sharp objects, gasoline, and even sewage. There is also the risk of electrical shock from downed or destroyed power lines.

In addition, driving through high water can cause your car to stall, or your vehicle may easily be swept away by the current. It's also difficult to tell how deep the water is in some places, and may be much deeper than it seems.

Keep gutters and drains in your home and neighborhood as clear as possible

As the streets begin to drain, it's important that the water has somewhere to go. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnvw-ewt1kk">Clearing debris from above and around the catch basins (storm drains) near your property can help. If possible, also offer to help nearby senior citizens do the same.

For your own home, look at your downspouts and safely remove debris from the gutters and at the point where the water exits each downspout. Check your basement drain to make sure it's not clogged so any water that enters the basement can drain properly.

Like standing water in the street, it's important to stay clear of standing water in your basement if the area includes electrical appliances, outlets, or a fuse box.

Exercise caution as flood water recedes

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services warns citizens to be careful even after flood water begins to clear:

"Use caution when reentering a home or building that was flooded. Wash and sanitize flooded areas if your home was flooded & closed up for several days. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid electrical lines, debris, insects & wild/stray animals.

When in doubt, throw it out. Throw away food that may have come in contact with flood or storm water; perishable foods that have not been refrigerated properly due to power outages; and food with an unusual odor, color or texture."

Do not reenter your home until it is safe to do so. When you can, be extremely careful, especially with electronics. Try to return during the day so you don't need to turn on lights, and never turn power on or off or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.

As you clean out your home, place flood damaged items on your curb, and the Detroit Department of Public Works will pick it up for you.

How to get help if your basement flooded

Detroiters can call 313-267-8000 to report water damage in order for the Detroit Water & Sewage Department to know who has been affected, and to receive important damage claim information. Or, you can make an online claim here.

The state of Michigan also put together a guide with information about flood insurance issues and other non-emergency aid here. You can learn more about what DWSD has done and is planning here.

For other local resources, call 2-1-1.

Emma is a communications specialist with the digital team at Michigan Radio. She works across all departments at Michigan Radio, with a hand in everything from digital marketing and fundraising to graphic design and website maintenance. She also produces the station's daily newsletter, The Michigan Radio Beat.
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