The southbound lane of Jefferson Avenue at Shook Road remained closed due to flooding at press time Jan. 14.

The southbound lane of Jefferson Avenue at Shook Road remained closed due to flooding at press time Jan. 14.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

Local communities deal with winter flooding

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published January 17, 2020


MACOMB COUNTY — The rain, rain, rain came down, down, down to create flooding — in January.

Across Macomb County, the Department of Roads had to close 12 main roads during and after the Jan. 11 storm that dumped inches of rain on the area, and in St. Clair Shores, problems with pumps led to the closure of Jefferson Avenue between Martin Road and 12 Mile Road.

As of Jan. 13, four Macomb County roads were still closed to traffic as maintenance workers waited for them to drain on their own, including the right lane of Jefferson Avenue east of Shook Road in Harrison Township.

“Maintaining safe and driveable roadways is our No. 1 priority during weather-related events,” said Bryan Santo, director of the Macomb County Department of Roads, in an email statement. “Our department dispatched more than 60 trucks throughout the weekend to salt and clear the roads, and to keep driving conditions as safe as possible for motorists.”

The weather also necessitated the dumping of more than 60 million gallons of combined sewer overflow treated with a heavy bleach solution into Lake St. Clair from the Chapaton Retention Basin in St. Clair Shores.

In St. Clair Shores, Department of Public Works Director Bryan Babcock said that crews prepared for the onslaught of rain ahead of time by staging barricades at several locations where flooding had occurred before, and also by putting pumps out at a few different locations to prepare for the worst.

When the rain began, Babcock explained that there was some ponding beginning on Jefferson Avenue, including in spots north of Martin Road. Pumps were put in place to remove the water, but “unfortunately, these vehicles are just driving so fast through them ... it splashes up onto our pumps and stops them from working.”

Because of the water splashed from passing vehicles, the DPW had to shut down Jefferson Avenue in that area and bring two additional pumps to remove the water.

“When there is standing water, driving through it fast not only does damage to neighboring properties, but also to pumps that we have going to try to keep the water off the road, so please drive slow through standing water,” Babcock said.

When that amount of rain falls for an extended time, Babcock said there is some work that needs to be done to keep the water flowing.

“When we have that much rain for that duration, it’s tough on all our pump stations. Sometimes they overheat and our guys have to go out and get them restarted,” he explained.

Above-ground pumps are run with gasoline and need to be refilled. Crews also worked to clear street drains of debris so they could drain properly.

Babcock asked residents to make sure leaves are cleaned up so they do not clog drains or pumps during the next storm event.

“There were spots all over the city. We’d go out there and just rake the leaves off, and the water just started going down,” he said.

Babcock said an accurate weather forecast helped St. Clair Shores prepare for the rain before it fell.

But immediately thereafter, crews had to get back out on the road to salt the roads as temperatures fell Jan. 12.

“We were out there salting and scraping the roads all Sunday night, so it was a very long day for everybody,” Babcock said.

Eight employees worked through the rain event Jan. 11, another six worked to repair water main breaks, and then three drivers came in to plow and salt the roads.

“Now we’re restocking our salt load and getting ready for this weekend,” Babcock said Jan. 14.