Water-damaged items pile up in metro Detroit

Royal Oak, Clawson neighborhoods lined with trash

By Priya Mann - Reporter

ROYAL OAK, Mich. - Neatly packed plastic boxes were drying out Wednesday on a driveway in Royal Oak.

From a soaked heirloom teacup collection to photographs now stuck together, everything in the basement was drenched.

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"Water was shooting up from the drains, up from the toilets, up from the shower and it was just going, going, going. Boxes were toppling over," said Melissa Fahning, whose parents' basement was flooded.

What can't be salvaged will end up with the trash on the curb. Home after home in this neighborhood on the border of Royal Oak and Clawson shows just how much couldn't be saved.

"Normally I get maybe a 3,000 or 4,000-pound load. I'm twice that already," said a garbage collector in Clawson.

By noon Wednesday, Rizzo Environmental Services garbage trucks had filled a second truck load with another seven hours to go. Compare that to a normal day when crews barely fill a load and a half. On Tuesday, drivers in Royal Oak hauled away 30 tons per truck, double the normal load.

"In the section that we're in right now I got four trucks and there's usually one truck," said Jay Goodnight, supervisor with Rizzo in Royal Oak.

Trucks are usually spread out, but following the flood crews are sticking close together and going block by block. They're seeing everything you can imagine: hot water heaters, coaches, and even a scooter.

In some cases, there are belongings people probably never expected to part with.

"It's sad. It's not just garbage. A lot of it's memories and things they've been keeping throughout the years. They thought they kept them safe. They didn't," said Brian Fahning.

Trash collectors are working 12-hour days. Rizzo says they will keep picking up garbage until Saturday. They hope to be caught up by then.

If they don't get your garbage, don't leave it on the curb because they won't return until the next scheduled pickup.

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More: How to handle a flooded basement

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