Minimal damage from storms, worse flooding avoided in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 15, 2021

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — While a heavy storm event delayed the city fireworks and caused flooding on some streets, St. Clair Shores escaped much of the damage experienced further south from storms that ripped through the metro area June 25-26.

“We started getting called Saturday morning somewhere around 1 a.m., 2 a.m. for flooded streets,” said Department of Public Works Director Bryan Babcock. “Especially in the south end of the city, it seemed like the heaviest rain fell.”

He said that, from about 11 Mile Road south, residential streets, Harper Avenue and Little Mack Avenue all experienced flooding.

“It seemed like most of our resources were going toward the south half of the city,” he said.

While St. Clair Shores received between three and four inches of rain, Babcock said the Grosse Pointes got as much as six to eight inches of rain, so he said it made sense that the south end of St. Clair Shores had more issues with flooding than the north end.

“During the storm, we were doing what we could to block roads so people would not drive into the water and damage their vehicle,” he said. “We did start getting some phone calls about homes with basement backups (and) started responding to those streets to check the city sewer mains to make sure they were flowing and operational.”

Storm sewers were able to catch up by 9 a.m. June 26, he said. As of early June 28, the department has had reports from 30 homes with basement backups. Babcock said he urges residents who experienced problems to file a damage claim with the city so St. Clair Shores can track and assess how much damage actually occurred in the city as a result of the storm.

Residents can call the Department of Public Works at (586) 445-5363 or visit scsmi.net to file an online claim.

“At this point, you don’t need to provide receipts or pictures — just get the claim form submitted, and we’ll follow up with people,” Babcock said. “If some kind of state of emergency is declared, we might need more documentation, but for now it just helps us assess how much damage there was.”

The St. Clair Shores Fire Department received about five calls for arcing power lines, said Fire Chief James Piper. Harper Avenue at Trombley Street was shut down from about 1:45 a.m. to 3 a.m. June 26 because a power line was down across the road. In addition, a tree limb fell and pulled the electrical service line down from a home. The area was secured and DTE Energy crews responded to secure the situation.

Babcock said only one tree fell, and there were some limbs that needed to be removed from the storm.

“Luckily, we had minimal tree damage,” he said. “We’ve been staying pretty active on our tree trimming, which seems to really be helping with damage during storms.”

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller called for an independent investigation into the operations of the Conner Creek Pump Station in Detroit, after extensive flooding in the Grosse Pointe communities and Detroit led her office to have to discharge treated combined sewer overflow into Lake St. Clair.

“The rain was coming — we all knew it was coming,” Miller said in a press release.

She said wastewater systems are not designed to fully handle a 6-7 inch rainfall, but steps could have been taken to minimize the likelihood of extensive flooding like that seen in the Grosse Pointes and areas of Detroit.

The shutdown of the Conner Creek facility impacted Macomb County when the Marter Pump Station on Jefferson Avenue, at the border of Macomb and Wayne counties, was shut down to halt further flow to Conner Creek. That caused the backup of combined storm sewer flow beyond the capacity of the drainage district serving St. Clair Shores and Eastpointe, forcing Macomb County Public Works crews to discharge 96 million gallons of chemically treated sewage from the Chapaton Retention Basin and the Nine Mile Emergency Bypass into the lake.

“That was a necessary move,” Miller said. “We were that last line of defense. Had we not, the same kind of flooding experienced in Detroit and Grosse Pointe would have happened to thousands of homes in St. Clair Shores and Eastpointe.”

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