After a weekend of torrential rainfalls and intense flooding, many Dearborn residents have a massive cleanup on their hands. Basements are under several feet of water. Debris is strewn throughout the streets. Waterlogged possessions are set out at the curb. State Rep. Abdullah Hammoud, a Democrat representing Dearborn, sent out an urgent call to action over the weekend, seeking volunteers to help residents in the flood’s aftermath.
The response—and the demand—was overwhelming. Hammoud told Stateside hundreds of people have signed up for assistance and volunteers have made thousands of calls to check up on residents.
“If you come and you just drive down the east and south end neighborhoods, you’ll see people’s livelihoods all at the curb, just waiting to be picked up by a garbage truck,” he said. “It’s absolutely devastating what’s going on here.”
According to Hammoud, the most urgent needs for Dearborn residents are getting their electricity, air conditioning, and hot water back on. But he added that there are other safety issues like leftover sewage residue and potential mold problems caused by soaked floors and walls. That means clean up is going to be a long and multi-step process for many households.
“We pumped out water for the first few days,” he said. “We’re taking out furniture and debris, and then we’re going to try to come up with a game plan to decontaminate and assist folks for the next phase.”
Unfortunately, the heavy storms passing through the Metro Detroit area over the weekend were not the first time residents there have experienced major flooding damage. There have been several destructive flooding events in the region just in the past decade.
“We keep hearing the phrase that this is a historic rainfall that hit the city of Dearborn, but we had catastrophic flooding that happened back in 2014. This once every 100 year flooding seems to be happening every four to five years.”
While Hammoud agreed that both climate change and “crumbling infrastructure” are prime factors, he strongly believes that “it can’t be that we just accept this to be the new norm.” Hammoud, who is running for mayor of Dearborn, told Stateside that the city needs to be held accountable for coming up with solutions. Hammoud said he wants an independent investigation to determine why the flooding was so bad, and what infrastructure changes are needed to prevent such extensive damage in the future.
“Do we need a second Rouge River? Do we need to go back and increase the diameter size of the sewers that we’re installing? There has to be a solution somewhere out there. That’s what I’m focused on finding.”
In the meantime, Hammoud plans to continue organizing volunteers to assist those affected by the devastating floods.
“Because if it’s not us, who’s going to do this?”
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Mary Claire Zauel.