Heavy rains cause headaches for residents, employees’

By DANIEL HERATY
Times-Herald Newspapers

For the second time this year, streets in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights flooded following heavy rains.

The wet weather began Nov. 28 and didn’t let up until Nov. 29, when between 2 and 3 inches of rain fell in the area. The heavy rains also caused the Southfield Freeway to close between Interstate 94 and Outer Drive in Dearborn Heights and Allen Park.

In Dearborn, much of the rainfall was absorbed by the city’s four combined sewer overflow stations which treated the rainwater and sent it to the Rouge River Dearborn Supt. of Water and Sewer Dean Montrief said.

“We had just as much rain (as in summer),” he said. “But we’ve been pretty proactive in maintaining our sewers. All of our sewers worked as designed.”

Assistant Supt. of Water and Sewer Jeff Salem said the only flooding in city streets was on Telegraph Road under the Michigan Avenue underpass because the street has a lower elevation than the river in that area.

Because of the volume of water during heavy rains when the river crest is high, Montrief said, the water comes up through the drain floods Telegraph Road.

In Dearborn Heights, much of the water receded by Nov. 30, leaving a muddy mess behind Department of Public Works Administrator William Zimmer said. He said the flooding and street closings were comparable to storms in May, when about 3 inches fell in the area. Crews were working early in the morning Nov. 30 putting up barricades to block the streets.

“It started raining and continued all night,” he said. “The (Rouge) river started overflowing its banks about 4 a.m., after that the barricades started (going up).”

Zimmer said the Southfield Service Drive to Pelham and the area of Telegraph and Hanover
were the worst-hit areas. Road closures were exacerbated by residents who would try and drive through the floodwater.

“Most of the roads were still impassible (as of Nov. 30),” he said. “People would drive right down the middle of the street and it’s too late.”

The flooding also caused Dearborn Heights School District No. 7 to close Nov. 29 and 30. Supt. Jeffrey Bartold said the district’s 1,300 School of Choice students, non-residential students enrolled in the district, use the Southfield Freeway to access the district. He said when the freeway closed, there would be no way for them to get to school.

“We made the decision to close the schools,” he said, “and let the water recede. There’s no way you could get around.”

Bartold said by 2 p.m. Nov. 30, much of the water had receded, allowing for schools to be open as scheduled Dec. 1.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)