ROYAL OAK (WWJ/AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder visited metro Detroit on Friday to tour flood-ravaged neighborhoods and join volunteers in helping residents clean up following Monday’s historic rainfall.
WWJ’s Stephanie Davis tagged along Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin took Snyder on a tour of a middle school where cleanup continues after raw sewage came up through a drain.
“We brought in disaster relief specialists … They’re cutting the drywall; they’ll be ripping up the carpets,” Lewis-Lakin told the governor. “They’re gonna be not only drying, cleaning, sanitizing, dehumidifying… We’re going to make sure we’re safe and ready for students on Sept. 2.”
The governor — clad in blue jeans, work boots, and a “Pure Michigan” polo shirt — got his hands dirty helping to move boxes and water-logged furniture from a flood damaged Royal Oak home on Farnham near Catalpa.
“…Because this is awful, to see this happen…and these good people are just volunteering to solve the problem — get it cleaned up,” Snyder said.
The home’s 31-year residents, Kat Cahaney and her husband, lost everything in the basement.
That’s where their 21-year-old son Alec lives.
“Alec and I have been moving stuff up for four days,” Cahaney said. “And what they’ve accomplished in an hour-and-a-half is just unbelievable. This would have taken us two more weeks; and the house smells.”
Following that stop, Snyder planned to stop by Macomb County’s emergency response center to thank volunteers who have been fielding phone calls by the hundreds.
The governor said all three counties: Wayne, Oakland and Macomb — in which he declared an official disaster — have been working to gather information about residents in need.
Is federal help on the way?
“FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has been with us during this process,” Snyder said. “And what we’re going through now is the damage assessment process. So, each one of the counties is sending in their information. It’s going through a review process; there’s good dialogue going on.”
Snyder interrupted an official trip in the Upper Peninsula Tuesday to survey damage via helicopter following Monday’s record-setting rainfall. But the Republican has come under criticism from Democrats as “out of touch” after a radio interview in which he mentioned his vacation home had recently sustained water damage when a tree limb fell on the roof.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer visited Royal Oak Wednesday to help clean a resident’s basement. Republicans have accused Schauer of playing politics by demanding an emergency declaration before seeing the area.
Meantime, residents are glad it’s garbage day in hard-hit Warren, where — in some neighborhoods — trash at the curb is piled several feet deep as a result of this week’s flooding.
It’s such a big job city officials are using out-of-state cleaning crews to help out. In Warren, officials say an estimated 18,000 homes sustained some type of flood damage.
On a residential street near Schoenherr Road and I-696, WWJ’s Marie Osborne spoke with a PuroClean crew, called in from Dayton, Ohio.
“They just got overwhelmed with the work and asked us to come in and help ’em out,” said one worker, who didn’t give his name.
“Well, we went after Hurricane Sandy, so, it was pretty bad out there. But, as far as the type of water, with it being like a sewage backup, most of it is never like this, no,” he said. “I’ve never seen every house affected on the whole street; that’s crazy.”
He said his crew will handle two or three homes and day, 12 to 14 hours-a-day; and expects they’ll be in town for two weeks.
Macomb County executive Mark Hackle will be speaking with the governor in Warren Friday and will give him a better idea of how many lives were affected by this weeks storms.
In Macomb County, officials urge affected property owners to call a special information hotline at 586-493-6767, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or complete a “damage assessment report form” that can be found on the county Emergency Management website or at a local government office.
Macomb County has also established a damage assessment reporting center at the Southwest Health Center located at 27690 Van Dyke, Warren, 48093 for those residents who do not have access to a computer or need assistance in completing the form.
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