Detroit works to clean up after severe flooding damages property, city

Detroit City officials are working to find ways to help residents clean up after basements throughout the city filled with water Friday night into Saturday morning.

One of those residents was Cherly Sullivan, who rushed home from her job in Ypsilanti only to find street after street blocked off with floodwaters. But the time she finally did reach her home, she found her basement, too, was flooded as the rain poured into her home.

"It still took me four hours to get home and I have a pile of furniture and my basement is flooded," Sullivan said. "By the time I get home everything was flooded: the streets was flooded, my basement was flooded."

In her basement was her dog, Jango, in his crate. Fortunately, the dog was okay but everything else was ruined.

Cheryl was one of so many people on Detroit's west side near Tireman and Southfield Road who are dealing with the damage, the clean-up, and now the smell from the flooded mess.

One man said he estimates he had between $7,000 and $10,000 damages.

The Ratcliff family, Faith and Andre, said they were surrounded by the water.

"We didn't know it was going to flood the basement but I could see behind us, our whole street was filled. My kids were could wade in the water," Faith Stephens-Ratcliff said.

"The cleaning up is going to be the worst. Just cleaning up and trying to help up our neighbors. One of my neighbors is disabled," Andrew Ratcliff said.

Everyone is now wondering: what do we do now? Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the city will be there for them through the entire process.

"We've had a lot of loss of property. We're going to do everything we can to help you recover as quickly as possible,"

Duggan is advising everyone to clean and repair their homes but also take photos, document the loss, save receipts, and file a claim with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Doing those steps would help with potential financial reimbursement from FEMA if the city and state get the emergency declaration they are seeking from President Joe Biden.

"We have never seen this kind of rain volume in our area in this short a period of time," Duggan said.

The final measure was 5.77 inches in one day. That's twice the amount of rainfall that Detroit gets in two months. It may take weeks or months for a disaster declaration and FEMA investigation to reimburse residents for the massive loss.

"We've seen in this country so often in times of natural disasters that people of lower-income, people of color tend to be left behind in these crises and we are committed as a city to ensure that does not happen in Detroit," Duggan said.

The city is organizing assistance for the disabled, the elderly, or for people who are unable to get into the basement. To get help, go to or call 313-267-8000.