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August 27, 2014

Multiagency resource center helps flood victims

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Staff from the Troy Department of Public Works and Community Affairs department answer questions about and pass out damage assessment survey worksheets at the Troy Community Center Aug. 19.
Staff from the Oakland County Health Division share information on how to deal with the flood aftermath.
 

Hundreds came to the Troy Community Center Aug. 18-19 seeking one-stop shopping to hook up with a number of state, county and city resources in the aftermath of record flooding.

Oakland County Homeland Security, in partnership with the state of Michigan, hosted a multiagency resource center at the Troy Community Center to answer questions about issues relating to the historic rainfall Aug. 11. Representatives came from the Oakland County Health Division, the Oakland County Mental Health Authority, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, the Michigan Department of Human Services, the Michigan State Police, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, the Area Agency on Aging 1-B, the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency and the city of Troy.

“We want people to notify their city of the damage they have,” said Bill Mullan, media and communications officer for Oakland County.

He explained that in order to make a case to receive state and federal funding, “we need to build a case. The threshold for receiving assistance is very high. It’s possible we may not qualify. The county is going to make the strongest case we can. It’s a process that takes weeks, if not months.”

He noted that assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency generally takes the form of low-interest loans.

In the short-term, Mullan said that people grappling with the flooding have got to make sure basements are cleaned out, disinfected and dry.

“You’ve got to take care of that now,” he said.

“What’s going to get us through is neighbor relying on neighbor, and family relying on family,” he said. He added that anyone who was or believes they were in contact with sewer water should get with either their primary care physician or county to check to see if immunizations, in particular tetanus and hepatitis, are up to date.

“The county has a record of your shots,” he said.

The city of Troy and Oakland County declared a state of emergency in the wake of the flooding in order to request financial assistance and additional resources.

In Troy, a number of homes and businesses in Section 35, the oldest part of Troy — which is bounded by 14 Mile, Maple, Stephenson and John R, one of the few systems in Troy with combined storm and sewer systems — flooded because the system was designed for a specific capacity of water and the 5-plus inches of rain exceed that, explained Kurt Bovensiep public works manager for the city of Troy.

Some Troy residents had up to 5 feet of water and/or sewage in their homes. Businesses were forced to close, and commuters were stuck on the roads due to closures on Dequindre, Maple and Stephenson Highway.

Mullan said those experiencing hardship with flood cleanup should get in touch with their municipalities, which will often have a list of groups and volunteers who wish to help.

“Your city will be aware of resources and groups that have stepped up,” he said.

Troy city staff were on hand to help residents with questions on filling out and obtaining the damage assessment survey worksheet and how to file a claim against the city under Public Act 2001 through the City Attorney’s Office. Under the act, which clarifies when a municipality is liable for a sewer backup, a claimant may seek compensation from a municipality for damages or injuries caused by flooding for a number of factors — the sewage system is defective, the municipality knew or should have known the system was defective, the municipality did not fix the defect in a reasonable time and the defect was the cause of the damage.

Information on the worksheet is also available at www.troymi.gov. Residents must file a claim within 45 days of the Aug. 11 event. 

Representatives from the Michigan Community Service Commission were on hand to help Oakland County residents who need it get help removing flood-affected belongings, mud, sand and floodwater, and to gut flood-affected walls, drywall and paneling, and to disinfect.

Jason Alexander, communications specialist for the MCSC, said volunteers from Americorp and All Hands Volunteers, national groups of volunteers that specialize in disasters, stood ready to help those in need. To request help, visit www.bit.ly/floodcleanupsemi and complete the Flood Cleanup Assistance Form or call 211 to ask for volunteer help.

Fred Robinson, of Clawson, attended the Aug. 19 MARC event with is wife, Randi, and 19-month-old daughter, Olivia. They live on Park Street, near Livernois and Maple. They had two feet of water in their finished basement and had to rip up building material and throw out furniture and cherished items, such as books they were saving for their daughter.

Fred said his entire neighborhood was out in full force helping one another after the flood.

“One of the neighbors brought pizza. We live on a great street,” he said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.