DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WWJ) – As flood victims empty their basements of sewage-infested clothing, furniture and other belongings — all of that roadside garbage is attracting treasure hunters, and the attention of police.
Residents in Dearborn Heights have been busy moving flood-damaged belongings from their homes to the curb. But those water-logged bags, boxes, couches and entertainment centers aren’t staying there for long. Trash pickers looking for metal to sell for scrap or anything else of value are preying on the “misfortune” of residents.
One resident told WWJ’s Ron Dewey there were so many people rummaging through garbage on curbs in his neighborhood, cars were actually blocking the street to traffic, preventing some residents from even pulling into their driveways. On top of that, some of the pickers are leaving garbage strewn everywhere, creating a bigger mess than what already existed.
Similar scenarios are playing out in communities across metro Detroit that were flooded by Monday’s torrential storms, which dumped over six inches of rain in some places.
Now, police are issuing a warning: Pick through someone else’s garbage and you could be in a heap of trouble.
Officials in Hazel Park said people who pick through garbage on the curbside could be arrested, and police are on the lookout.
Royal Oak officials say as soon as those garbage bags hit the curb, they become city property. Police will be monitoring the neighborhoods, officials said, and anyone rummaging through this “city property” could be ticketed and face fines.
Gov. Rick Snyder on Wednesday issued a disaster declaration for the tri-county area, where thousands of homes and businesses were flooded in the storms.
“The flooding that continues to impact Southeastern Michigan is a disaster in every sense of the word. As local and state authorities work around the clock to deal with this situation, it is clear that the significant personal property and infrastructure damage, coupled with ongoing threats to public safety, warrants this state declaration. By taking this action, the state can fully coordinate and maximize efforts to support its local partners,” Snyder said, in a media release.
The National Weather Service said 4.57 inches of rain fell at Detroit Metro Airport, breaking the previous record of 2.06 inches set back in 1964. It’s the second-highest one-day rainfall on record for Detroit, behind 4.74 inches that fell on July 31, 1925.