Snyder to Metro Detroiters: Document your losses from flooding

Jim Lynch
The Detroit News

Warren — Gov. Rick Snyder, in town Monday to tour flood damage in the city, urged residents around Metro Detroit to meticulously document their losses in preparation for the State of Michigan to officially request federal disaster assistance.

Warren was among Metro Detroit’s hardest hit communities during a massive rain storm one week ago. In roughly 10 hours, some cities saw as much as six inches of rain — a near-record amount.

With thousands of homes flooded and major portions of the region’s transportation system closed for days, Snyder declared Metro Detroit a disaster area on Thursday. A key issue for many whose homes have been damaged is that their insurance policies will not cover thousands to tens of thousands of dollars in losses.

“The biggest thing we need to do is get all of the information together for a presidential (disaster) declaration,” Snyder said. That declaration would make millions in federal aid available to Michigan residents trying to get back on their feet after last week’s devastation.

The governor said that information will also serve to aid the state in attempts to compel insurance companies to pay claims when appropriate. He hopes to have enough information collected this week to submit a formal request to the federal government.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts led a brief tour of one neighborhood near the Eureka/Stephens intersection — a community where, even after repeated trash collections all last week, the curbs were still crowded with damaged belongings headed to the dump Monday.

“We help people that are flood victims and disaster victims in other countries, it’s time the federal government now help out Americans — specifically Warren citizens and Detroit metro citizens that have the same need,” Fouts said. He added he would like to see insurance companies forced to say right up front whether they cover flood damage, instead of leaving details in the fine print.

Snyder visited the home of Gretchen Domino, 46, where he saw first-hand the massive damage to her home where a basement wall was blown due to the rains. U.S. Rep. Sander Levin was also part of the group of officials participating in the survey.

Domino estimated the damage to her home as roughly $60,000, and the insurer indicated she was not covered.

“Allstate should be ashamed of themselves — all of these insurance companies that are raping the citizens of their money,” Domino said. “What is the purpose of having insurance?”

Next door, Coreena Dragoi and her son have been living in a front-yard tent since last week. The mold damage inside the home have made it almost unlivable. But they remain posted outside at all times after scavengers have been seen cruising the neighborhood.

“Everything on the first floor is a disaster,” she told Snyder.

Across Eureka Avenue, Larry Fafford’s estimated damages are $10,000, but his insurer is not agreeing to pay. And he said he feels fortunate.

“I was fortunate because it didn’t get inside the house,” the 66-year-old said. “But my garage and my breezeway were just trashed.”

Last week, Fouts estimated total damages in the city were between $90 million and $100 million — down from his earlier estimate of $1.2 billion. On Friday, Oakland County officials estimated the total amount of flood-related damage at $337 million. Wayne County officials put their number at $210 million.

Snyder toured areas of the region last week, including a stop at Royal Oak Middle School. Of the damage he witnessed, the governor said Friday: “It hits you right in the heart.”

Snyder is up for re-election this year and the government’s response to the flooding has become a campaign issue. Democratic challenger Mark Schauer was in Metro Detroit as well late last week after criticizing Snyder for a perceived delay in declaring the situation an emergency.

“With one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, any unnecessary delay in re-opening our major highways puts our economy at risk,” Schauer said in a released statement mid-week.

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