“It is time for Gov. Rick Snyder to send the Michigan National Guard to provide relief and assistance to residents and businesses, including those in House District 2, affected by the recent flooding in Detroit and along the Detroit riverfront. Recent major storms have created a risk to the health and welfare of people living in the flood zone. Children and families are facing serious health risks because the storm system mixed sewage with storm water overflow that then flooded homes and properties. Our local authorities have committed resources to the cleanup, but it is not enough, and they don’t have the resources to do more. There are many residents and business owners who are unable to address the huge quantities of flood waste materials in their homes and on their property. To help us recover from these devastating floods, we need the additional assistance and equipment that the Michigan National Guard can provide.
“I am also requesting that Gov. Snyder require the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to conduct an independent assessment and review of the storm drain system in House District 2. Clearly, this storm system is not working as it should. The residents of House District 2 cannot afford the health risks and the costly destruction of personal and business property. It is of the utmost importance that we have a prompt and clear response from the governor. Anything less will be seen as a failure of the state to protect Michigan citizens when they are least able to protect themselves.”
August 25, 2016
Honorable Rick Snyder
Governor of the State of Michigan
As Governor of the State of Michigan, along with the 110 members of the Michigan House of Representatives and the 38 members of the Michigan Senate, we have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of Michigan and thereby pledged to protect and serve the people of the State of Michigan to the best of our ability.
It is in this regard that I urgently request you take a personal and direct action and review the situation happening to thousands of Michigan residents as a result of recent flooding in Detroit and along the Detroit riverfront. Not only have storms have created dangerous flood conditions in this area on three separate occasions in the last five years, there have also been two additional occurrences of flooding in the last six weeks.
Recent major storms have created a risk to the health and welfare of people living along the Detroit River. Children and families have been threatened with serious health risks as Detroit’s singular storm system has allowed sewage to mix with storm water overflow and placed dangerous waste materials in flooded homes and local properties. The storm drainage system in this area has created hazardous conditions not only failing to protect residents and property from flood damage but also exposing them to biological contaminants as well.
The July 2016 storms created flooded areas which affected almost all Detroit homeowners and businesses located south of Jefferson between Van Dyke Street and Alter Road, along with properties north of Jefferson. Many others along the riverfront outside of this area experienced similar conditions. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal and business property have again been lost, as those who provide flood insurance seek to take advantage of this dangerous scenario by requesting unreasonable high premiums which many cannot afford to pay.
When your office was first contacted regarding this dangerous condition, my office was instructed to work with the local emergency disaster office. We did contact that office and once they received our information they then asked (in accordance with current stipulated procedures) the Michigan State Police to do an assessment of the damage in preparation for a local declaration of emergency.
When the MSP conducted their assessment it appears they did a “line-of-site” review only. We have not been informed by any residents of MSP officials either speaking directly to people or doing actual property inspections. This method resulted in the MSP issuing a statement that there was insufficient evidence to make a local declaration of emergency. As a result, no further action was deemed necessary at the state level. I truly believe the procedures in place to conduct this assessment by the MSP are not designed nor require the engagement necessary to recognize this type of emergency.
Although local authority has committed what resources it had available to address the damage caused by flooding, obviously it was not and is not enough. Families and businesses are again having to deal with the vestiges of a failed storm drainage system.
It is now obvious to everyone living in this area that the storm drainage system is not adequate to address continued heavy rain storms. The recent rains have again created conditions beyond the ability of residents, businesses and local authority to address, thus adding to the risks that already exist.
It is for these reasons that I call on you to authorize the Michigan National Guard to provide direct relief assistance to the Michigan citizens whose lives and property are continuously threatened by flooding along the Detroit River with immediate assistance being given to those who live along the Detroit River in House District 2. There are many, many residents (and business owners) who are unable to address the huge quantities of flood waste materials in their homes and on their property. The amount of physical labor and equipment needed is beyond their personal ability and resources. Local authorities have provided as much public and private sector relief as possible, but do not have the resources nor capacity to do a thorough clean-up.
I also request you direct the Department of Human Services (in addition to measures currently being taken by the Detroit Health Department) to send personnel to assess the health status and assistance needed of affected residents.
I further call on you to mandate the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality conduct an independent assessment and review of the storm drain system in House District 2. The independence of the investigation will ensure that it is objective, thorough, and beyond reproach. That the storm drainage system is not working is without question. The one true question is what will our State do to address the continuing system failures?
Given the recent events surrounding the MDEQ, including the Flint drinking water calamity, it is absolutely necessary that the State of Michigan commits all available resources to addressing issues of water and water waste management where peoples’ health is at risk. To not address this continuing flooding will be another crisis (both in reality and in public perception) waiting to happen. Our people deserve better from their State.
It is of the utmost importance that we the citizens of House District 2 have a prompt and clear response from you as Governor on this matter. Anything less will be seen as the Executive Office failing to protect Michigan citizens when they are least able to protect themselves.
The residents of House District 2 await your response.
State Representative Alberta Tinsley-Talabi
House District 2