'No one cares': Constant backyard flooding worries family of special needs girl
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (FOX 2) - Heidi Fort's backyard has become a swamp - complete with ducks, a half-submerged picnic table, and a play scape her little daughter, Finley - can't use.
"It's literally the most dangerous place around here for our daughter," said Heidi Fort. "This is very dangerous - our 3-year-old has autism. She knows how to open and unlock doors now - and it's terrifying we can't take our eyes off her for a second, because she could drown in this."
Heidi says it wasn't always like this. She and her husband bought the Auburn Hills home on Bald Mountain Road in 2016 for the huge, fenced-in yard.
"One of the biggest selling points was this oasis of a yard - honestly it was beautiful," she said. "Gorgeous willows is really what sold it for us."
Heidi says the previous owners had installed a sump pump in the back - it didn't work, but it wasn't a problem. She says this low-lying area got wet - but never flooded, until 2021.
"The city came out and they said - this is unprecedented - this is a 100-year rainstorm - it would never happen again," she said. "And also - private property - private problem. And we felt really stuck."
A Department of Public Workers employee - volunteered his own time to pump the water out of the yard and into a nearby creek. Heidi says they never expected it to flood like that again - yet her yard and her neighbors are underwater.
"This didn't happen before the city allowed new development to go in," she said.
Heidi is talking about a new subdivision - just down the street.
"There were wetlands there - and so my concern is with removing all that wetlands - the water got displaced and now it's here," she said.
The city says that's not the problem - and that it's just a low-lying area. But Heidi says private contractors won't help her either.
"All the landscaping companies that we've contacted have said - contact the city," she said. "We've gone to city council meetings - I've met with the mayor, the city manager, the director of public works, community development and no one cares."
Heidi says a city engineer who came out says a storm drain would be ideal there - but the director of public works told FOX 2 it is a private property - and a private problem.
The DPW director also said he'll volunteer his own time to help pump the water out again so the Fort family can fix the existing sump pump - and hope - that it helps.
"I think that's a really kind gesture, but I'm really looking for a long-term, sustainable solution here," she said, "We really feel at a loss - we feel like we've reached out to everything possible - and we don't know what else to do."