Detroit issues emergency order to address flooding in Jefferson Chalmers area

Rising lake and river levels are wreaking havoc in Detroit's Jefferson Chalmers area.

The city said Wednesday that its taking steps to stop river and canal water from flooding homes and streets in major areas of the neighborhood with an emergency order.

The city will begin preparing and placing thousands of sand bags in vulnerable areas as soon as Thursday.

An emergency order issued gives workers the right to access the exterior of privately owned properties to place the sand bags as necessary to prevent water from flowing into neighborhoods.

According to the order, residents are not to remove sand bags until authorized by the city. Those who do will be subject to a blight ticket of $500 and the possibility of a misdemeanor charge with a maximum penalty of up to $500 and or 90 days in jail.

“While they may pose an inconvenience, the bags we are placing are to help protect residents’ homes and removing them at this time would allow the flood waters to pour into the neighborhood,” said Chief Operating Officer Hakim Berry.

“At this point this is not just about protecting people’s homes and personal property. That is a major focus, but it’s also about reducing the demand on our wet weather pumping and treatment facilities,” said DWSD Director Gary Brown.

“Our system has performed beautifully given the extraordinary demand, but we have to alleviate the pressure from the river before we have more wet weather and our ability to collect and process sewage is either reduced or eliminated for a period of time,” Brown said.   

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Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.