How to get help after the Detroit flood: FEMA, she...

How to get help after the Detroit flood: FEMA, shelter and more

Flooding on I-94 in Detroit. Credit: Kate Abbey-Lambertz

This article will be regularly updated with new information.

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of victims hit by the extreme rainfall and flooding in southeast Michigan over the weekend, there are resources you can access in case of property damage, power outages or the need for emergency assistance. 

Over the weekend, up to six inches of rainfall in less than 24 hours caused severe flooding throughout Detroit and suburban cities near the river, as the combined sewer system and a failure at the Conner Creek pumping station overloaded the network. It’s thought to be the most substantial rain event in Detroit in the last 80 years. The extent of the devastation is still being determined, but many experienced damage to homes and property and had their cars stranded on freeways overrun with water. Nearly 25,000 people in the region lost power

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency in Wayne County on Saturday and is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to unlock additional funding for the recovery effort. Residents should also prepare for more potential flooding and power outages as additional rain is forecasted throughout the week. 

For those who need shelter

If your home flooded to a degree that makes it unlivable, the Red Cross has opened two shelters in Detroit and Ann Arbor. You can either go directly to a shelter or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. 

  • Butzel Family Center, located at 7737 Kercheval St. Detroit 48214
  • Pioneer High School, 601 W Stadium Blvd. Ann Arbor 48103

Dearborn is also offering an emergency shelter and cooling center for those without power at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center (15802 Michigan Ave.).

For cleaning up your home

If you experienced flooding at your home, it is essential to clean as quickly as possible — by pumping, disinfecting, then drying — to prevent the spread of mold. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has step-by-step guides to eliminating mold and testing your water quality

If you still have standing water in your basement, call the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) immediately at 313-267-8000 and they will send a crew to your home. Do not walk or stand in water that isn’t draining, especially if your electricity is still on. The state’s 2-1-1 hotline, administered by the United Way for Southeast Michigan, is available 24 hours a day and can also help connect you with resources. 

If you’re a senior citizen or a person with disabilities and need help cleaning, call the same number (313-267-8000). The city has committed to continuous bulk pick up in flood-affected areas and is suspending all ticketing until removal is complete. Simply place your trash on the curb and it will be picked up. 

Dearborn residents affected by flooding should call 313-943-3030 or visit the city’s website, and for Grosse Pointe Park call the city’s Department of Public Works at 313-822-5100. 

While it’s unlikely that future storms this week will match the severity of those over the weekend, this guide from the Red Cross can help you prepare for further potential floods. 

Filing an insurance claim

Because it’s important to clean your home as fast as possible, Mayor Mike Duggan said he expects some form of federal reimbursement (though it may take a while) and is urging residents to pay for whatever services or equipment are necessary. 

Here is a fact sheet from the state on flood insurance and how a federal disaster declaration might affect you. Document the extent of the damage through pictures and receipts. Residents are being asked to fill out claims through their local municipalities within the next 45 days. This will help the state made a damage assessment and jump start your FEMA process if President Joe Biden makes a disaster declaration.

Detroit residents should fill out this claim form. The Detroit Free Press has information of what to do in other Wayne County cities.

Give help 

Detroit is looking for volunteers willing to work four-hour shifts to help with the clean-up effort. If you’re interested, fill out this form. You can also donate or sign up to volunteer with the Red Cross.

Aaron Mondry is the editor of The Dig and a reporter who covers development, housing, architecture, real estate and land use in Detroit. He was previously the editor of Curbed Detroit.