THE BLOG

Gov. Snyder's Casual Response to #Floodageddon Is Michigan's 'Katrina'

08/13/2014 03:25 pm ET | Updated Oct 13, 2014
  • Brian Stone LGBT advocate, U.S. Navy Veteran and Dearborn, Mich. resident

Imagine this: An international terrorist group detonates explosives that cause damage to every major freeway in Metro-Detroit and force fleeing citizens to abandon more than a thousand cars on the street. At the same time, they pump thousands of homes and businesses with biochemical agents that contain high levels of deadly bacteria. Do you think the governor would wait until noon of the next day to assess the damage? Do you think -- more than 24 hours after the attack -- he'd still be considering whether or not to call a state of emergency?

Replace the terrorist attack with a record rainstorm and you'll have the situation Metro Detroit is in right now. Considering that the public health risks and physical damage is exactly the same as the imagined terrorist attack, I have to ask: Why is Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) taking his sweet time?

Since no state of emergency was been called by Tuesday, more than a million commuters were stuck trying to travel along flooded local roads in and out of the city, causing even more vehicles to get stuck and abandoned in sewage.

As the crisis worsens and even more rain falls, FEMA still has not been contacted in any request for assistance. A few squads of state police have been assigned to ward commuters away from the mud-covered highways, but nothing is being done about the potential health crisis caused by raw sewage.

Tens of millions of gallons of raw sewage has been poured into our streets. Nothing is being done about the homes that have no flood insurance and are unlikely to get fixed without government help. The ongoing sewage crisis is going to disproportionately affect minorities in Detroit's hardest-hit neighborhoods and what does Gov. Snyder say about it? According to the Detroit Free Press' report, "We just have to work through it."

People who live here are quickly finding out that there just aren't enough handymen, dehumidifiers and construction teams to handle the crisis. With our Governor's sense of urgency, #floodageddon may quickly turn into #blightageddon. Some people may be waiting weeks to months in homes flooded with sewage before they can get the help they need from private contractors, assuming they can even afford it. By that time the damage will be so extensive, homeowners that are already stuck in overpriced mortgages will be be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars of debt as wooden foundation beams rot and need to be replaced. Without federal assistance, the potential impact on the already deteriorating blight situation in Detroit is incalculable.

The fact is, Gov. Snyder doesn't care about Metro Detroit. He doesn't live here. He cares even less about minorities in Detroit. He'll probably just view this entire crisis as an opportunity to bulldoze more homes in black communities.

Now, pro-Snyder groups might say, "This was a natural disaster. How could he plan for this?" Actually, the Governor can plan for these things -- he just likes ignoring the reports raised on issues like this.

The Southeast Michigan Coalition of Government's released a report in February on the area's sewage systems saying, "60-70 percent of the existing sewer system was built before 1970, which means it is at the end (or beyond) its useful life. We also know that the current level of investment in the existing water and sewer systems is insufficient." Still, the governor insists on defending his choice to give away $1.8 billion in tax breaks to businesses, paid for by reduced funds for our schools, roads, bridges and sewer systems.

The fact is, our Governor is giving away short-term benefits to his buddies in big business while the long term infrastructure of our metropolitan area is being decimated through the combination of disinvestment and record-setting weather. Just like New Orleans' infamous sea wall, Gov. Snyder's drought of action in Detroit is rising to Katrina-levels of neglect.

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