Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said the climate crisis and aging infrastructure are behind flooding which has swamped the Detroit area.
A large storm brought a deluge to the Midwestern region this past weekend, leaving thousands of residents pulling possessions from murky sewage waters which backed up into homes in Detroit, Dearborn and Grosse Pointe.
Sections of Interstate 94 has been closed for several days after small lakes formed. Authorities were working to tow vehicles which became stranded after trying to make it through rising water levels. The I-94 is one of the US’s major highways, connecting the east and west of the country.
Governor Whitmer said on Monday that “old infrastructure combined with climate change” and power outages were at the heart of the disaster. She said that continued flooding showed that the state must allocate funds for storm water infrastructure upgrades.
“This is about how do we build the infrastructure that can keep us safe, that can keep our commerce and our economy going. But also recognizing we’ve got to decrease our carbon footprint at the same time,” Gov Whitmer said, according to a WDET report.
“Lend a hand to your neighbors and loved ones who are struggling,” she added, during a news conference in front of a submerged section of the I-94.
The National Weather Service said more than 6 inches (15.2cm) of rain fell from Friday night into Saturday in some areas. Grosse Pointe Park measured 8.1 inches (20.5cm) in a 24-hour period.
Gov Whitmer noted that rain for the entire month of June is typically 3 inches (7.6cm).
The third National Climate Assessment reports that the Midwest has experienced more extreme rainfall events and flooding over the last century, and these trends are expected to continue due to the climate crisis. And more often when it rains, it will pour.
Extreme heat, heavy downpours, and flooding will have impacts on infrastructure, health, agriculture, forestry, transportation, air and water quality in the Midwest, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
More intense, frequent heat waves, along with humidity, degraded air quality, and poorer water quality will mean more risks to public health.
AP contributed to this report