Water on roads, flooding in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 16, 2016 | Updated August 19, 2016 4:03pm

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — More rain, more basement flooding in St. Clair Shores.

Rain gauges set out by the Department of Public Works showed that between 2 and 5 a.m. Aug. 16, 3 inches of rain fell in the city, with 2 inches of that falling in the hour of 2:45-3:45 a.m.

DPW Director Bryan Babcock said that a number of streets were flooded throughout the city, but workers had been checking storm pump stations along Jefferson Avenue and found them all to be functioning correctly — just unable to keep up with the amount of rain.

On the city’s south side, there was a lot of water on the roads that drain to the Alger Pump Station. But he said that when they checked the station, “The levels in the pump station were very low, and the pumps were running normally and very well, yet there was water up on the street.”

Some storm drains were blocked by debris, but Babcock said many of them were not blocked at all — the water just couldn’t get down fast enough. As of press time, 194 calls had been made to DPW regarding the Aug. 16 rain event, with 160 of those reporting basement backups.

“We have not, to this point, found any main plugs or anything that would have caused any problems,” Babcock said. “It’s just the amount of rain that fell last night.”

Residents shared their problems on Facebook with the city and the Sentinel, saying they don’t remember as much flooding before the past few years.

“We had very little backup into the basement, because we have a flap that shuts,” said Dean Chandler, who lives on Elizabeth Street, in a Facebook post to the Sentinel. “However, our neighbors’ flooding in their basements has been more severe. We’ve lived here for more than 26 years and have experienced heavy rains prior to the summer of 2014 with no backups. However, starting in the summer of 2014, there have been no fewer than five incidents of basements on our street getting water/sewage.”

Bobby Gream just moved into his home on Harmon, north of 10 Mile Road, in December, and has already dealt with a flooded basement twice.

He said he called the city when his basement flooded in July and filed a claim. It was denied just a day before he got an additional 8 inches of water in his basement Aug. 16. Since July, he put in all-new storm traps and knew his pipes were clear to the city’s line.

“I got to make another claim,” he said. “Every time it rains basically hard, my basement floods. After this time, we’re not going to keep anything down there.”

He said the flood is a mix of sewage and stormwater that destroyed enough things in July to fill a 20-yard dumpster. This time, Gream said, he had to call the Fire Department for help because his refrigerator was “popping” and making electrical noises. He said the water also put out the pilot light on his hot water heater and hit his furnace, as well.

“Unless we fix this problem, we’re probably just going to move,” he said. “I can’t keep, every time it rains, fixing everything.”

A power outage in the area of Maple and Benjamin streets, near 10 Mile Road, exacerbated the problem, Babcock said, because pump stations won’t work without power.

“We brought in temporary pumps that are lowering the levels there until DTE can get out there and make repairs,” Babcock said.

He asked residents to call (586) 445-5363, ext. 200 or 201, to report backups in their basement.

“We send out our employees to check the sewer city main and make sure that they’re flowing correctly and that there are no blockages causing those backups,” he said. “It just seems to be too much water trying to get away from the homes at this time.”