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Posted on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 10:38 a.m.

Ann Arbor apartment flooding: Dog found dead, residents displaced

By Danny Shaw


Flooding on Thursday night at Park Place Apartments along Pauline Boulevard in Ann Arbor.

Photo courtesy of Ainsley Schlinghoff

See more coverage of Thursday's storms and tornado here.

A woman waded through a flooded parking lot Thursday at Ann Arbor's Park Place Apartments, desperately trying to reach her ground-floor apartment, said resident Rhey Coleman.

"She was just hauling it for the door," Coleman said. "The water was almost up to her waist. I heard that she had a dog inside."


Parks Place/Hillcrest Apartments maintenance crews helped remove soggy, damaged furniture from seven flooded units caused by Thursday’s storm.

Danny Shaw |

Kelly Gorski, community manager at Park Place/Hillcrest Apartments, confirmed Friday that a dog was found dead in one of seven units at Park Place that was damaged by flooding from Thursday night's storm.

A man identifying himself as the dog owner's father said she didn't want to comment and was distraught by the death of her dog.

The storm, which produced a tornado in Dexter that damaged more than 100 homes, brought 1.8 inches of rainfall on Ann Arbor's West side. The flooded Park Place building and parking lot sits on the complex's east side, which is on the bottom of an incline.

At least a dozen residents at Park Place and Manchester Flats, both on Pauline Boulevard, were displaced.

The units at Park Place had 3 to 4 feet of water inside, while there was several inches of water in five units at Manchester Flats, Gorski said. Viela Neitzelt was one of the residents at Park Place apartments whose home was flooded.

"I lost everything," Neitzelt said, as she stood Friday in the soggy mess of her garden-level apartment.

Neitzelt, who works as a welder, said she does not have renter's insurance. She said her car also was flooded in the parking lot and would not start.

At the worst point, Neitzeit said, the water was up to her waist.

Neitzelt, who has lived at Park Place three years, stayed with a friend Thursday night. With her apartment uninhabitable, she was unsure what she would do next.

Jill Biegel, senior sales associate for Park Place Apartments, said at least 10 cars had water damage from the flood, including her own.

"The water was up past the windows," Biegel said. "My car was deemed un-drivable from all the water and sewage."

Six people stayed overnight Thursday at a Salvation Army shelter on Arbana Drive and five were still there this morning.

"Anybody who's in need can come in," said Major John Williams, the Washtenaw County coordinator for the Salvation Army. "As long as there's a need in Washtenaw County we will be open."

The properties are owned by Ann Arbor-based McKinley Inc.

Biegel and Gorski said they are taking donations for the Park Place Flood Recovery Fund, which they established Friday to help benefit the residents effected by the flooding. For more information about donations, call the Park Place/Hill Crest Apartments main office at 734-761-1897.


Viela Neitzelt on Friday shows how high the water rose during at the sliding glass door of her apartment at Park Place apartments on Pauline Boulevard in Ann Arbor. Neitzelt, who doesn't have renter's insurance, said she lost everything from the flooding during Thursday night's storm. She said her car also got flooded and wouldn't start Friday morning.

Steve Pepple |'s Lee Higgins, Lizzy Alfs and Steve Pepple contributed to this report.



Mon, Mar 19, 2012 : 2:36 a.m.

There are likely lawyers evaluating the occurrence in order to see if there if McKinley was negligent. It could be to McKinley's advantage to assist tenants more and reimburse major losses before the negative press that would accompany lawsuits. Are the unitis that flooded in compliance with housing code? Also, for insurance companies there is a difference between sewer backup and flooding. Is there a clue as to which this was?


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

Thank goodness no one died, but these poor folks should be prepared to patrol the perimeter until their remaining goods can be safely secured, lest they be the targets of out of town looters and vagrant squatters


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Those lower apartments are at the bottom of the hill on Pauline. To make it worse (and shown in the picture) this building is actually down a hill. All of the water from Pauline, the apartment roads and overflow from stadium went into this man made pond that unfortunately has an apartment building in the middle of it. It was a LOT of water too. Most of the surrounding roads were impassible. McKinley is a very large organization and I do hope they step up. To have these tenants staying in the shelter when they have properties all over the city seems a little absurd to me. Hopefully it was just a case of timing and them not knowing what else to do at the time. Since these guys are basically my neighbors and I've been though similar I'll plan on dropping by and making a donation. Hopefully other folks will do the same.

Mark Hergott

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.

What Mckinley Inc. loses in making these people whole again (save for the dog, that is tragic) will be made up for in positive PR.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 8:53 p.m. you and your significant other, I am so very sorry for the tragic loss of your beloved pup. We have six dogs and foster many more and each one is a loved member of our family. I know no words can make you feel better, I just want you both to know that someone understands your loss and grieves with and for you. Again, so, so very sorry.


Sun, Mar 18, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

The dog was in her crate when the apartment flooded. She belonged to my signicant other and me. Neither of is knew the apartment was flooding during the storm. I got there before the fire department or anyone else, and went into the building minutes after it ended to try to get her out, but the water level had gone above her crate. So she was gone before I got to her.


Sat, Mar 17, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Nor do they cover the loss of a beloved pet. What I find interesting is where was the dog? I am surprised the animal did not get to a higher level. Most dogs do. Very scary and very sad to hear. I agree though, McKinley will not cover any loss unless you have renters insurance.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

The majority of normal renters insurance policies do not cover flood damage.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

McKinley won't be "making these people whole again." They'll fix the damaged units but the loss of the contents is borne by the residents alone. There is a standard clause in rental contracts that requires tenants to get renters' insurance. The property owner has no responsibility to replace contents lost as the result of any incident, including flat-out negligent property maintenance. Most renters never bother to get renters' insurance, so they lose everything they own when something like this happens. Moral for all renters: get replacement-value renters' insurance. It's inexpensive and there's no reason to take such a risk with everything you own.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

My thoughts and best wishes to the resident who lost her dog. How very tragic :(

Captain Obvious

Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Best of luck to you all, and I hope McKinley is helping everyone to their fullest extent.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

Very sorry to hear about the loss, especially the dog. Couple of questions about the flood: - Is the apartment in a flood plane? 100yr? 50yr? -What was the mechanism of the flood? River overflow? Too much rain in too little time on frozen ground?


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

I lived in that same building (2nd floor) over ten years ago, and remember the lower apartments getting flooded with a foot or two of water then, though it was not so bad as to flood the parking lot. The ground isn't frozen, and there is a storm drain in the lawn behind this building. When I was there it would flood because all the landscape mulch would wash down to the storm drains and plug them up. I suppose if it was bad enough, water may have possibly come up through the drains, but I'm going to bet that they just got plugged. If that's the case, since McKinley's known of this problem for a long time, if nothing was done to correct it and they still rented this level out knowing it was so flood prone, I'd call it negligence.


Fri, Mar 16, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Good questions. I lived in a ground floor apartment at Park Place a few years ago. And even during the worse rains (like the tornado outbreaks of June 2010) I never had any problems with flooding.