FEMA visit Grosse Pointe Woods after flooding

GLWA to conduct system study

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 13, 2021

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Two weeks after residents experienced flooding due to heavy rains that occurred June 25-26, Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives visited the city July 9-10.

FEMA visited approximately 20 homes to speak with homeowners about their flood damage and property losses. Public Safety Director John Kosanke accompanied FEMA on the visit.

According to City Administrator Bruce Smith, as of July 12, city officials had 395 reports of flooding, most of which were residences. City engineers are looking into what caused the flooding, and the Great Lakes Water Authority is conducting a study of its system.

“All the pumping facilities in Grosse Pointe Woods performed without problem during the flood,” Smith said in an email. “Employees manned the Torrey Road Pump Station for 17 hours, ensuring the pumps were running properly. GLWA reported problems with the Freud and the Conner Creek facilities, which may have contributed to the flooding.”

The Freud and the Conner Creek pumping stations are both located in Detroit. The Grosse Pointe Woods Public Works Department has worked overtime during the flooding events.

“At this time, I don’t have an exact amount,” Smith said.

On July 2, city officials distributed buckets to assist residents with cleanup from the storm damage. The buckets contained N95 masks, latex gloves, sponges, mop heads, small broom heads, bottles of cleaners, squeegees and more.

“We have given out 137 buckets to our residents and gave the City (of) Grosse Pointe Park 40 as they were running out,” Smith said.

The flooding issues came up at the July 12 Grosse Pointe Woods City Council meeting. Scott Lockwood — executive vice president of the city’s engineers, Anderson, Eckstein and Westrick Inc., based in Shelby Township — gave a brief overview. He said the city received “a lot of rainfall” June 25-26, but the southern part of the city received “significantly” more than the northern end.

“A lot of the flooded basements are in the southern half,” he said.

The Torrey Road Pump Station and the Milk River Water System worked properly during the rainfall.

“There were no issues with how they ran,” Lockwood said.

City officials have scheduled a Zoom videoconferencing meeting at 7 p.m. July 15 to further discuss the flooding issues. The Zoom address will be sent via email blast to residents and also will be available on the city’s website at www.gpwmi.us.

In the meantime, Wayne County residents can call 2-1-1 to find help cleaning up debris from flood-damaged homes. Operators will connect residents with volunteer and faith-based organizations to assist them. The 2-1-1 hotline operates daily from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. However, 2-1-1 cannot assist residents seeking financial help for flood damage. Residents who do not need assistance with debris removal should not call 2-1-1 about flood-related issues at this time.

As residents recover from the flooding, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller called for an independent review of the Conner Creek Pump Station. Macomb County holds one seat on the GLWA Board of Directors.

During a press conference held electronically July 2 and available on YouTube, GLWA Chief Executive Officer Sue McCormick confirmed that the Water Authority will conduct a thorough internal investigation on the recent heavy rains.

“I’m glad GLWA has listened to my request for an independent investigation into operational shortfalls at Conner Creek and also the nearby Freud Pump Station,” Miller said. “The bottom line is, all pumps need to be operational, and they need full backup power. They need to be fully staffed during severe rain events.”

GLWA has recommended to its Board of Directors that it consider retaining an independent engineering expert to examine the system’s performance and GLWA’s response. McCormick added that 7 to 8 inches of rain fell over a period of less than 19 hours June 25-26.

“The flooding was caused by the amount and the intensity of the rain, which was more than typically falls in the month of June, and it overwhelmed the system,” McCormick said. “It was not caused by any single pumping station or any single element within the regional system. The Conner Creek Pump Station did not fail.”

According to McCormick, the Freud Pump Station experienced two operational challenges during the June 25-26 storms. The first challenge was the electrical trips on starting the station’s third pump. The cause of the trips is unknown, but it will be investigated.

The Freud Pump Station’s power supply also was interrupted. At 6:52 a.m. June 25, GLWA was informed by its service provider that the Ludden Substation, which feeds power into the pump station, was damaged and out of service. At the time of notification, the service provider indicated it was working to correct the issue, but the issue was not resolved before the rainfall.

The Conner Creek Pump Station experienced a house power outage from a leaking vacuum priming pump that sprayed water on the circuit breaker within the pump station. This did not impact the power to the first and second pumps. However, it delayed the start of the remaining pumps. After a delay, pumps three, four and five began working, but the sixth pump failed to start after three attempts.

On July 1, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan announced the creation of the United Way Crisis and Recovery Fund. The fund is designed to help mobilize immediate support when crises strike, such as the recent heavy rains and flooding that have affected families across the region. Shelly Watts, vice president of fund development at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, said a donor match will be used to propel the fund toward a goal of $1 million.

“We are grateful to have the support of philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and other generous donors to help power this effort,” Watts said in a prepared statement. “Together, their funds will allow us to match the first $250,000 in donations received through the United Way Crisis and Recovery Fund, helping provide additional immediate relief to those impacted by devastating floods across the region.”

United Way’s Crisis and Recovery Fund is designed to strengthen front-line agencies’ ability to accommodate the rise in requests for assistance from families facing homelessness, job loss, transportation challenges and other struggles. It’s also intended to help individuals navigate resources and legal options for flood recovery and reimbursement and to connect families with cleanup and remediation services.

Monetary contributions can be made at www.UnitedWayCris isFund.org. In addition to raising funds, United Way is organizing and mobilizing hundreds of volunteers to aid with cleanup and other pressing needs.