DWSD official talks flooding prevention, while explaining efforts city is making to divert rainfall

On Tuesday Governor Gretchen Whitmer asked President Joe Biden to issue a disaster declaration for the state in an effort for more federal aid.

With more rain in the forecast, some victims of recent flooding are frustrated, like Detroit resident LaTonya Ballard. She and her family thought their flood prevention efforts were enough.

"He snaked out basement so if it starts raining it would go out to the main drain, and he fixed a trap so it would not back up in the basement," said Ballard.  

But her husband did not finish all of his work before the June 25th massive rainfall and his basement were one of the thousands in Southeastern Michigan that flooded.

"My washing machine and dryer are gone," she said.  

Ballard and many other residents are asking what can they do to minimize the likelihood of flooding in their homes.

For starters, experts like Palencia Mobley say to make sure drains around the outside of your home are not covered with debris - and don’t forget about your gutters.

"One of the main things homeowners can do, is ensuring gutter's downspouts are connected and running away from the foundation of the home," said Mobley, deputy director, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

If you live in a flood-prone area like the Ballard family who calls the Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood home, there are additional steps you can take.

"The installation of a check valve on their private sewer service," Mobley added. "It will prevent flow from the public system entering your private lateral."

Mobley said homeowners should avoid a couple of specific things during a heavy rain event to also prevent flooding.

"That is flushing toilets and running a bunch of water," she said.

You can also do an underground inspection.

"You can now have your private sewer service camera by hiring a licensed plumber and that camera inspection lets you know if you have a defect," she said.

The city says it continues to do its part to prevent flooding. One example is the landscaping at parks that collect excess runoff water from neighborhoods by creatively using greenspace and drain design.

"We have installed a variety of green stormwater infrastructure installations like the one we see here, at Viola Liuzzo Park," Mobley said. "Those installations minimize the amount of rainwater that comes into the system, it slows down the rate into which the water gets into the system."

DWSD says it’s also making what it calls strategic investments.

"Rehabilitating sewers, lining sewers, making sure they work at maximum capacity," she said.

As Ballard’s husband continues to make changes to prevent flooding, the family hopes the next rain event won’t hit them so hard.  

"I’m praying," she said. "That is all I can do, is pray."