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Debbie's Blog

Flood Safety and Resources

Dear Friend,

The 6th district been hit hard, from Downriver, Western Wayne County, and much of Washtenaw. Two tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down, one in Canton and one in Belleville, and the National Weather Service continues to evaluate other areas Downriver and in Washtenaw County. Flooding remains, intersections are closed, and people have lost power. This weather is severely impacting our communities, and I want to make sure you have access to necessary resources. I have also been on the ground and in contact with local authorities to understand how I can help you best keep yourself and your loved ones safe. It is very important you let your city or township know if you have experienced flooded basements and other damage within your neighborhoods.

This morning, Wayne County issued a public health alert advising citizens to avoid contact with all rivers and streams in the county due to contamination from flood runoff and wastewater overflows. Please stay out of these waters.

  • Avoid All Contact: Refrain from swimming, wading, kayaking, boating, or any form of direct contact with the river water until further notice. This includes avoiding any recreational activities that involve the river.
  • Keep Pets Away: Ensure that your pets are kept away from the river water as well, as they can also be susceptible to the contaminants present in the water.
  • Hygiene Practices: If you inadvertently come into contact with the river water, immediately wash the exposed areas of your body with soap and clean water. Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth and eyes, after being in or around the river.
  • Avoid Consuming Fish: If you engage in fishing, we recommend refraining from consuming any fish caught from the river during this time, as they may be affected by the effluent discharge.

Flood Safety

  • Stay Informed: Stay tuned to your local news for updated information on road conditions. Ensure water is safe to drink, cook or clean with after a flood. Authorities may ask you to boil water for a while after a flood. Utility companies often have apps to update you on getting service back. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the leading causes of death after storms when areas are dealing with power outages. Never use a portable generator inside your home or garage. Review generator safety.
  • Avoid Flood Waters: Standing water hides many dangers including toxins and chemicals. In particular, never ingest flood water and keep it away from open injuries. If you do come in contact with flood water, make sure to wash any skin that came in contact with warm, clean water and soap. There may be sharp objects under the water or the road could have collapsed. If it is likely your home will flood, don't wait for evacuation order, get out! Talk to friends and family about emergency visits. If you have pets, take them with you or get them somewhere safe.
  • Children, pregnant people, and those with weakened immune systems or chronic breathing problems should not help with flood clean up. While cleaning, ventilate and dry your home by using fans and dehumidifiers and opening doors and windows. However, if you already see mold, do not use fans because they can spread it. Wear protective eyewear, gloves, and boots to prevent direct contact with flood water. Before refinishing and replacing walls and flooring, everything in the home needs to be completely dry to prevent future mold growth. Most household items made of metal, plastics or ceramics can be cleaned up and kept, while other things like wood furniture, photos and books, clothing, and appliances may need to be disposed of depending on the level of damage. Wash affected areas and items with detergent solution to remove surface dirt and contamination and allow to air dry. Then apply a disinfectant labeled for bacteria, or a 10% bleach/water solution. Disinfectants or bleach solution should remain in contact with the area for 15-20 minutes to be effective. DO NOT MIX cleaning products together or add bleach to other chemicals because the combination can be toxic.
  • Avoid Disaster Areas: Do not visit disaster areas. Your presence may hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
  • Heed Road Closed and Cautionary Signs: Road closure and other cautionary signs are put in place for your safety. Pay attention to them!
  • Wait for the All Clear: Do not enter a flood damaged home or building until you're given the All Clear by authorities. If you enter a flood damaged building, be extremely careful. Water can cause floods to collapse, ceiling to fall, etc. Make sure the electrical system has been turned off. Have the power company or a qualified electrician fix wires. Contact your insurance agent to discuss property damage. If you have a generator, follow proper safety procedures.
  • Learn more about flood safety here.

Basement Flood Safety

  • Don’t wade through the water. If your basement floods, you’ll likely have the urge to go through the water and try to salvage valuables or sentimental items. It’s important that you don’t. Even if your home has lost power, there’s still a chance you could be electrocuted in a flooded basement if someone is running a generator nearby, or if the power suddenly returns. Call your utility company to disconnect the home’s electric meter before making any moves. Customers should also stay out of damp basements if water is in contact with electric appliance.
  • Pump out the water. Once you’ve assured that the power is off, look for ways to get water out of the basement. Many times, water will begin to recede on its own but it’s also helpful to set up a system to get it out quicker. Be sure you’re pumping water far enough away from the house (and your neighbors’ houses) so that it doesn’t creep back into the foundation and back into the basement. Always use gloves in the process to protect your skin from any chemicals or contaminants that might have been mixed in the water and have patience if it’s a slow process.
  • Throw away all damaged electric equipment. An unfortunate reality is that after a flood, nearly all exposed electrical equipment is almost certainly ruined. Damaged appliances that have been flooded are extremely dangerous to operate and could present more risks than they’re worth. Items that will almost-always need to be replaced include: circuit panels and breakers, blowers and fans, fuse boxes, furnaces, boilers, air conditioners and more.
  • Protect your home from future floods. While a flooded basement can sometimes be inevitable, there are ways to prevent it from happening. Simple tricks like cleaning your gutters and finding and diverting water-pooling spots away from the house can make a big difference, in addition to installing a sump pump and water alert system. Be sure to have an emergency preparedness plan in case of a flood and talk to your insurance agent about a flood insurance policy.
  • Stay tuned to the news. Make sure you pay attention to your local news or MDOT’s map of flooded roads for warnings in your area. You can also monitor the flood’s progress to get an idea when the weather will dry out by visiting:
  • Check DTE’s outage map. Customers can use the DTE Energy Mobile App or visit to report an outage or downed wire, view the outage map and check the status of an outage.
  • Learn more about basement flood safety here.

Local Resources

  • To report non-receding flooding in Washtenaw County, click here.
  • To report impacts from the storm in the Van Buren area, click here.
  • To report damage in Wayne County, click here.

A flood warning remains in effect until Friday evening. As a reminder, the most flood related deaths occur in vehicles, so you should never attempt to drive through flooded roads. Please keep me up to date with how this weather is impacting your community by calling one of my offices:

  • Ann Arbor: (734) 481-1100
  • Woodhaven: (313) 278-2936
  • Washington, DC: (202) 225-4071
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