FEMA inspects Detroit flood damage

Darren A. Nichols
The Detroit News
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Detroit — Federal, state and local agencies ventured into Detroit Wednesday for a second day of inspecting and assessing damages caused by flooding to homes and businesses during Aug. 11 storms.

Teams of inspectors visited residents on the city’s west side early Wednesday to verify the extent of the damages caused by the heavy rainfall and subsequent basement and street flooding as state officials try to build a case for Gov. Rick Snyder to ask the federal government to provide relief.

Zandia Andrews, 42, who has lived on Forrer near Grand River for about seven years, was among those Wednesday to whom the inspectors talked. Andrews was shocked they came into the city.

“I didn’t really think they were going to come out. I’m really surprised,” Andrews said. “I’m surprised and happy.”

Andrews lost all of her furniture and needed to throw away clothes, hair care products and linens that were stored in the basement.

“It’s very devastating,” said Andrews, who runs a hair salon in the basement of the home. “Now I have no furniture in my basement, and I’m trying to redo (it) — the walls and the floors. My insurance doesn’t cover floods.”

The inspections will measure damages and other factors against federal assistance eligibility criteria. Damage assessment teams use a number of factors in considering eligibility for federal individual assistance, including the size and scope of the damages, the number and length of time people are displaced, the threat to public safety and the number of primary homes requiring extensive repairs or having structural damage.

Flood water or sewer backup damages in recreational rooms, unoccupied basements or storage spaces do not generally qualify for FEMA assistance programs.

However, disaster-related damages to a home’s mechanical components or those in areas of a residence that meet the federal definition of essential living space may be eligible for federal aid.

Other factors may limit federal aid to Metro Detroit. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits, such as those from insurance, local housing authorities, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In addition, the federal government assesses the ability of a community to recover and the assistance available from volunteer agencies and state programs.

When the damage assessments are complete, state officials determine whether they meet established criteria and warrant the governor’s requesting a federal declaration and assistance.

“No determination will be made today or the next few days. It’s strictly a fact-finding mission,”said David Mace, a spokesman for FEMA. “... The goal is to provide Michigan with an overview (and) estimate as to the level of damage that was sustained in those areas.”

Jerry Johnson, 68, was pleased FEMA came to the home he’s lived in for about three years. Johnson, who has lived in the neighborhood about 30 years, said his current home got about 4 to 6 inches worth of storm water that caused damage to his appliances and some personal belongings. Another home he owns down the street got about 12 to 15 inches of storm water in the basement.

The problems at his homes were so bad that it landed him in the hospital.

“It stressed me out,” Johnson said. “I would say, let them come out. As long as they give me some relief, it’s a good thing.”


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