WARREN (WWJ) - Warren Mayor Jim Fouts has declared an official state of emergency and is calling on the government for help cleaning up after torrential storms left the city in shambles.
"It appears that Warren was the epicenter of the disaster," Fouts said live on WWJ Newsradio 950 Tuesday morning. "In some places the water was five-feet over the road. There's at least 1,000-plus cars abandoned on the thoroughfares of Warren. Our emergency personnel have been just besieged, overwhelmed with calls."
Fouts said Warren City Hall and the police department were flooded with 6 feet of water.
He said thousands of Warren residents have flooded basements and the General Motors Tech Center was forced to close.
According to The National Weather Service, 5.2 inches of rain fell Monday in Warren, flooding area streets and freeways. Motorists who got stuck on flooded roads ditched their vehicles in search of higher ground while others stayed put, even spending the night in their cars.
Police reportedly came in in canoes to rescue people from the pizza shop.
"We removed nearly 100 people from Buddy's Pizza to high ground at the Lowes parking lot. We then in turn removed another 500 from Lowes parking lot, we transferred those to the community center. We also brought in people who were trapped in their cars on the street," Fouts said.
At least one person was killed during the storm.
"We did have one woman who died," Fouts said. "It probably was storm related, although she died of cardiac arrest. They found her trapped in her car with three-and-a-half feet of water, so that obviously played a role." She was 31 years old.
LIVE INTERVIEW: Jim Fouts
Fouts said an estimated 400 people had to be rescued by boat.
"Police had three feet of water in their basement, which meant that they had to go on emergency generators, so our police and emergency lines are down," he said. "We know there's at least 40 cars under water on Van Dyke. Mound has probably over 200 cars abandoned. Throughout the city, the major mile roads have been pretty much impassable."
Things are so bad, he's requested help from the National Guard to assist residents dealing with the aftermath, and FEMA for funds to assist flooded homeowners in Warren as they recover.
"At the minimum, I'm going to request that the governor help us get some federal aid because literally, there are so many basements that are flooded, there's so many cars that have been abandoned," he said. "It's going to be a real challenge today. I think it's absolutely important that [Gov. Rick Snyder] get involved with this because of the amount of people affected and the cost, both in terms of people and homes and cars and just the infrastructure damage."
In the meantime, Fouts said all city workers have been directed to help residents with storm damage.
"I talked to one woman who is 85-years-old, her husband is 88 and is diagnosed with dementia. She is just overwhelmed, she's got a flooded basement and she has nobody to help her out. We need to help her out," he said.
Posting to his Facebook page later in the day, Fouts said the city is focused on cleaning streets and flooded basements.
"Since last night we have been all hands on deck, with city inspectors going out to help residents with their flooding issues," Fouts wrote.
He included the following rundown of information for Warren residents:
• We have a group of volunteers that have offered to help by the name of DRAW (Disaster Relief At Work). You can contact Greg at 864-569-6249 for help regarding your residential flooding in Warren.
• To file a claim for basement flooding, please call 586-574-4670.
• Please place any discarded furniture from flooded basements at the curb regardless of trash pickup day.
• The City's water is safe to drink.
• The Warren Community Center and Owen Jax Recreation Center are closed due to flooding.
• I have spoken with Governor Snyder today and have requested state assistance in the form of specific help for roadways and most importantly towards flooding in our basements.
• I have also spoken with Congressman Sander Levin's staff and officially requested that Congressman Levin seek aid from FEMA for our flooded basements.
• Please be safe out there and if you don't have to go out, please don't.
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