Area residents officials continue clean up after storm

Work continues on several roadways that were damaged by Saturday’s severe weather and flooding. (Scott Fraley/News Advocate)

By SCOTT FRALEY
News Advocate

MANISTEE COUNTY — While the threat of severe weather has passed, work continues to repair damage caused by damaging winds and flooding over the weekend.

“It was a massive storm in a short amount of time that completely overwhelmed the storm sewer and sanitary systems,” said Jeff Mikula, director of the Manistee Department of Public Works. “We’ve had crews out all day Saturday, trying to do our best to reduce surface flooding.”

According to Mikula, the city water and sewage utilities were forced to implement an emergency response program which passed the maximum flows through the treatment plant.

“The piping systems for the treatment plant and storm sewers aren’t designed to handle an event anywhere near close to that,” said Mikula. “For our emergency guidelines we opened the treatment plant to the maximum volume that we could pass through it, then actually did a bypass of the sanitary system.”

According to the National Weather Service, the storms brought damaging wind gusts and torrential downpours across northwest lower Michigan, bringing 4-8 inches of rain within hours.

In a public statement, Manistee officials reported nearly 7 inches of rain falling at the Public Works garage within a three to four hour period.

In nearby Mason County, 13.53 inches of rainfall was reported. If verified, that report would represent a new state record.

“(The Department of Public Works) has done initial notification to the State of Michigan, regarding the storm impacts on the sanitary sewers and water treatment plant,” said Mikula. “We also have engineers cataloguing where all the damage occurred and working on cost estimates for permanent repairs.”

Standing water presents a new hazard for golfers at the Manistee Golf and Country Club. (Scott Fraley/News Advocate)

According to Mikula, the roadways suffered the greatest damage from the flood.

“We’ve got four or five street sections that were damaged and we have crews that are out trying to clean those up and get them back open,” he said.

Many roads that were submerged in flood waters are now covered in debris and broken pieces of the road itself.

According to a statement made on the City of Manistee Facebook page: “Some city streets that were damaged during this weekend’s deluge have been barricaded and are closed to traffic.”

This includes 12th Street near the Manistee Public High School, where construction crews have been working to repair the flood damage since Saturday.

Department of Public Works crews have also been responding to some residential flooding calls, says Mikula.

“We’ve had a large number of calls for basement floodings and backups. We’re recommending people submit those claims to their insurance company. If they file a claim with the city’s insurance company we’re visiting homes and documenting for that purpose. We’re also in contact with Republic Services to see if there’s a way we can assist in picking up debris or damaged materials that have come from basements.”

Private restoration companies have also been inundated with basement flooding calls.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Nick Jablonowski of Servpro Manistee, Ludington, Cadillac. “It started at about 11 on Saturday morning and about every 10 minutes since we’ve been getting another phone call.”

The local Servpro franchise was forced to enlist the help of two other affiliates in order to handle the overflow of flooding claims. Jablonowski estimates as many as 60 households remain on the company’s waiting list and he expects additional teams may be required to help address the backlog by the end of the week.

For Manistee residents who are confronted by a flooded basement, Jablonowski recommends the following steps:

• Anyone looking to file an insurance claim should go through the entire contents of their basement.

• Make sure to take thorough photographs as documentation for a claim.

• Cover wood furniture with aluminum foil wherever it comes into contact with wet or soggy flooring.

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