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Posted on Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 3:29 p.m.

Heavy rains flood some Ann Arbor streets

By Staff

Ann Arbor street flooding.jpg

Residents float on a raft on Summit Street in Ann Arbor after Wednesday's rain.

Ryan Stanton |

Heavy rains this afternoon caused street flooding in several areas of Ann Arbor. On East Summit Street near Wheeler Park, some residents decided to treat the flood as an opportunity for recreation.

Some waded in the knee-high water, while others floated on rafts and tubes.

University of Michigan meteorologist Dennis Kahlbaum said southeast Ann Arbor received 1.5 inches of water between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. "Most of it probably fell in an hour's time," he said.

The area of South Fifth Avenue near East Madison Avenue in Ann Arbor also flooded after the rains, with water standing several inches deep in the street.

Here's a picture from Jeannette Gutierrez on Flickr of a storm drain cover that blew on Mulholland Street on Ann Arbor's West Side during the storms: Mulholland Street Flooding



Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 2:16 p.m.

Your infrastructure is in fact failing. Your storm sewers exceed design capacity. Your sanitary sewers exceed design capacity. Your water mains are in disrepair. Your basements are flooding. Your yards are flooding. your water service is being interupted due to main breaks. Many of your roads are horrible The grass in your parks is not being cut. After a wind storm it's a month before downed limbs & trees are removed. Your tax paid services are dwindling Your money is being spent in many of the wrong places and on many of the wrong things. It's more than infrastructure failing, but what suprises me most is you the tax payer, 30 years ago you all would have never tolerated what goes on now!!!!!! They have you where they want you, they tell you, you no longer tell them!

Susan Schwartzenberger

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 1:57 p.m.

I may be wrong, but I thought that storm sewers and the sewer system that is connected to your toilet are two separate systems. While storm water can be stinky (there's an awful lot that just sits around in those great big pipes under the city,) I don't think you can look down throught those grates in the street and see raw sewage that has been flushed from houses. No matter how old or new the storm sewer system is, occasionally Mother Nature will get the upper hand. Just ask any Katrine hurricane victim. Yes, the infrastructure needs upgrading. But even the new stuff can fail if it's overwhelmed. NEVER drive through "standing" water. Never.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 12:01 p.m.

Why do people have to be so negative? In case it's not apparent, the blown-off drain cover is on another street. Maybe floating in flood water isn't the cleanliest of pastimes, but my children and I were running through the giant puddles and wadding around while splashing one another. It was fun, and we laughed. Does that make it disgusting? I don't recall a log of poo attaching itself anyplace, or ever seeing any for that matter. I wish people would stop being so judgey and learn to live a little. My aunt just found out she has less than a month to live. Life's short. I bet she wishes she could go float in some flood water about now.

Rork Kuick

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 11:54 a.m.

Review the river flow for the last week downstream of confluence with Allen's creek: (that view will change with time). We can guess: 1) The flow from Allen creek yesterday exceeded the flow of the Huron River above it at times. Maybe Allen's was delivering 1500 cfs at peak, and the main stem above it just 700 cfs at best. (There used to be a working measurement device on Allen creek, and we need it to work again, even if it is embarrassing. Lacking measurement, we must "guess". By dam license requirements, there is supposed to be measurement below Baron dam, above Allen's creek, but Ann Arbor has flouted that requirement for decades.) Mill creek at Dexter, considered flashy and draining >140 square miles, was at about 70 cfs and perhaps still rising, by comparison. Allen drainage is only 5.5 square miles. 2) Look at those lows on Aug 6, 9, 10. My guess is that we have dam intelligence deficit as usual, but hopefully it was just someone purposefully fiddling with the dams. I am open to other theories, but can't think of any. It's appalling for a supposedly eco-friendly town to do these things to its river (and the flooding in town is bad too). (Trivia, but the Gutierrez water-eruption shot might be partly due to blockage, since water appears to be going down the neighboring drain in the same picture, but that's speculation.)

Wystan Stevens

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 11:30 a.m.

There was a teriffic flood on Allen Creek in 1902. It washed out a stretch of the Ann Arbor Railroad tracks, and debris that clogged the creek's culvert under the Michigan Central RR tracks backed up a torrent rushing toward the river, forming a lake in the area of Summit and Main that lasted for days. (In 1903, the Ann Arbor tracks were raised above flood level, and viaducts were constructed over Washington, Huron, Miller and Felch streets -- the same steel trestles in place today.) In 1926, the city placed Allen Creek underground, inside a concrete pipe, and called it a drain. That improved traffic on some westside streets, but it didn't stop the creek from flooding in 1947, and again during a downpour of biblical proportions in 1968. The 1968 deluge popped the cover off a person hole in West Park: an intrepid newspaper photographer risked drowning to take a photo of the heavy steel lid as it danced atop the plume of a water column, not far from the West Park Bandshell. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the city spent over 1.1 million dollars on improvements to the Allen Creek Drain -- but continued development means still more water runoff to fill the pipes, every time a hard rain falls. Incidentally, I live near the Rackham Building, north of East Huron Street. We had a bit of rain here yesterday, but nothing worth remarking on. I was astonished afterward to see the internet photos of flooding on Summit Street, and on South Fourth Avenue, near Fingerle's.

B. Jean

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 10:09 a.m.

You think Summit street floods now? Wait until the "Planned Unit Development" goes in across from the Community Center. With the rainstorm watershed from that giant building they will be able to surf insted of tubing. And with 40 new, bathtubs, toilets, kitchen sinks, and dishwashers straining the antiquated water and sewer system forget the rain, just hope they don't all flush at once. When the developers were asked (at an early neighbor meeting) if they did any studies about how that structure would impact the neighborhood water and sewer system the reply was something along the lines of, that is the drain commissioner's problem. No, it will be the neighborhoods problem and the city's when they are sued for flood damage. The city's planning department did not recommend the development but it was approved anyway by city council. Apparently none of them live in the flood plain or the neighborhood. And why have a planning department if you are going to disregard their recommendations? Just skip that step and go straight to council as they will do what they want anyway regardless of what the neighborhood taxpayers want.

Rork Kuick

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 8:37 a.m.

The major problem is development without adequate plans for storm water retention and detention. Just sending water down storm drains was thought to solve the problem, but carried out over large areas, as in the case of Allen and Mallets (and other) creek drainages around here, such planning is insane. Horrible impacts on the river too. Search for the watershed plans and you can read scores of pages about these types of problems and what can be done, and what is being done.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

This is the time to get out the jeep and go sailing thru the hi waters. I love the looks I get when I jet ski thru some of that hi water. Clean cars anyone?


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 7:39 a.m.

Its my understanding that the areas in question are part of the much discussed "flood plain". The Allen Creek flowed through those areas in the last century. Ann Arbor buried the creek underground by the way of a drain. Water will do what it may and all the houses built on top of the drain will be in trouble if global warming gets worse and we have many more of these torrential rains in the future. You can't fool with nature for too long.


Thu, Aug 12, 2010 : 12:17 a.m.

eew, why in the world would someone play in the flood water? just nasty, and I agree with Bill. If the manhole is no longer there there is nothing to keep you from being sucked into it, sheer stupidity. additionally, anyone who has ever had thier basement flooded knows what comes up first and dries up last. Just, just gross. I remember the last time my parent's house flooded we had stuff piled on the curb for the city to pick up (they always picked up the flooded stuff because when the city was expanding our neighborhood they didn't have proper drainage, as with many neighborhoods, hince why they picked up the garbage caused by the flood, settled claims and put sump pumps in many basements including my parents) ANYWHO. There we were putting sewage soaked stuff on the curb and people were driving by like it was freebies and hauling it off to their homes, even as we stood there and said "that futon floated in raw sewage for 6 hours" and they would still take it with a shrug of their shoulders. INSANE.

Fat Bill

Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 9:56 p.m.

Remember that when the manhole covers blow off, there is nothing to prevent you from falling into the the storm sewer, and then you are not only dead, you are probably plugging up the system with your corpse! And don't get me started about the content of the flood water! Yuck.


Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 8:02 p.m.

Years ago we lived on Murray ave. We had annual flooding whenever there was a heavy rain. The first time we saw the manhold cover blow off and the water poured into the street (and basement windows) it was scary. I understand the flooding in that area is/was due to the Allen Creek which is carried under that area. I think some of the stimulus dollars are being used to upgrade the drains in that area. I hope so, they have needed to be dealt with for 20-30 years.

Ryan Munson

Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 6:50 p.m.

There is no one single factor that I can see. I work right in the area near Wheeler Park and this is the worst I've seen the water level. It really has not rained much in the last how many days? Dry ground equals runoff when it poors. The ground can't absorb the water as well. Again, it's not the only condition as there are many.


Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 6:23 p.m.

Perhaps the headline should read "Heavy rains (always) flood (some) streets" - traveling through A2 on Washtenaw and Stadium (between Platt and Seventh Streets) in any amount of rain is treacherous, with cars hydroplaning through areas of frequent flooding - hard to see how it's not at least partly an issue of infrastructure and design for the storm drains.


Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 4:49 p.m.

@robertm record rains this year in short periods of time have resulted in systems overwhelmed. This does not indicate "failing" infrastructure.


Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 4:46 p.m.

My sympathies to you folks but what happened today may not be related to an infrastructure problem. That one one heck of a rain today, worse and longer than I have seen in these parts for quite a while. When this happens, sometimes it just overtakes the drain system. I imagine though some folks in some areas were hit very hard where there are infrastructure problems. This area on Summit, I believe is a very low spot. You have to know those low spots, like Karen found out. Sorry Ma'am. Also the storm drains can easily be blocked by sticks and other debris that flows to the drain and blocks the flow. I hope no one suffered any damage due to the drains being overtaken.


Wed, Aug 11, 2010 : 4:31 p.m.

I was driving down Pontiac trail when the rain was comeing down. I am now without a car. The rain was coming down so hard I didn't know the road was flooded. There has to be something done, My engine ended up stalling and I had to be towed away. Please lets look fixing this problem,