Steady rain is soaking the Detroit area, flooding highways and raising the anxiety of residentsBy ED WHITE Associated PressJuly 16, 2021, 9:20 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleDETROIT — Steady rain drenched the Detroit area Friday, flooding highways and raising the anxiety of frustrated residents whose homes filled with water again exactly three weeks after thousands of basements were wrecked by sewage from a tremendous storm.A downtown ramp to M-10, known as the Lodge Freeway, was below water and closed, while sections of Interstate 94 in Detroit and suburbs were also flooded.The National Weather Service posted a flood warning for Wayne County as well as flood advisories for elsewhere in southeastern Michigan.“When will this end?” Chelsea Parr said on a Facebook page for Grosse Pointe Farms residents.Indeed, people in the Grosse Pointe communities posted video of water rising in basements from floor drains, geysers in streets and manhole covers rising and falling, apparently from pressure under ground.“Beyond angry,” said Sarah Peruski, standing at the top of the stairs to a flooded basement.Detroit urged residents to clear catch basins in the streets. Dearborn blasted an outdoor emergency siren to warn people about the rain.In the Detroit area, some highways are vulnerable in any long rain event if they are below ground level. They depend on pumps to get rid of water.The pumps were working, but there was “more rain coming down than we can handle,” said Diane Cross, a spokeswoman at the Michigan Department of Transportation.“The rivers and creeks and even the sewer systems, grassy areas that all absorb the rain normally are kind of full,” Cross said.The rain fell a day after President Joe Biden declared a disaster in Michigan due to flood damage from late June. Thousands of basements in Detroit and some suburbs were swamped with water and sewage when more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) fell in just a few hours.Power disruptions stalled pumps operated by the Great Lakes Water Authority, sending sewage back through pipes. Piles of possessions from contaminated basements sat on curbs for days before being hauled away by weary crews.The agency insisted Thursday that it’s “ready for the storm.”———Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwritez———This story has been corrected to show the last flooding was three weeks ago, not two weeks ago.
Some Flint residents are urging a judge to reject a $641 million settlement in litigation arising from the Michigan city’s lead-contaminated waterBy ED WHITE Associated PressJuly 13, 2021, 11:06 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleDETROIT — A federal judge listened Tuesday to Flint residents who were victims of the city’s lead-contaminated water, a step in determining whether she should sign off on a $641 million deal that would settle claims against the state of Michigan.More than a dozen people without lawyers signed up to speak, all in opposition. Thousands more are represented by attorneys who negotiated the settlement with Michigan and other parties and urged approval a day earlier.”This is a little unusual,” said U.S. District Judge Judith Levy, who left her courthouse in Ann Arbor for a courtroom 55 miles (90 kilometers) away in Genesee County. The hearing was livestreamed on YouTube.The settlement fund includes $600 million from Michigan and $20 million from Flint. Attorneys are seeking $200 million in fees so the amount of money available to Flint residents is far less than $641 million.“The lawyers are making out like fat rats,” Audrey Young-Muhammed complained to the judge.Money would be available to every Flint child who was exposed to the water, adults who can show an injury, landlords, business owners and anyone who paid water bills. More than 50,000 people have filed claims in a city with a population of roughly 95,000. Kids are supposed to get 80% of the money.Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a written statement that the deal provides relief and prevents a “drawn out legal back-and-forth.”But the Rev. Freelon Threlkeld, addressing the judge, described the settlement as “some crumbs.”“You may not rescind this settlement, but at the end of the day, you and all the other lawyers are going to pay for what you’ve done to the have-nots,” the Baptist minister said.In 2014, state-appointed managers running Flint switched to water from the Flint River. But the water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion, causing lead to be released from inside old pipes. The water was also blamed for a spike in Legionnaires’ disease.Former Mayor Karen Weaver, who was elected in response to the crisis, said the settlement was inadequate, especially when compared to the number of victims and amount of money — $500 million — set aside in a sexual assault scandal at Michigan State University.“This is not justice for Flint,” Weaver said. “We ask you today to become the government and the judicial system that we can begin to trust.”Levy earlier said she can only approve or reject the settlement, not veto specific provisions.Separately, a state attorney responded to criticism from doctors that some lawyers for Flint residents were using a risky portable device to scan people’s bones for lead. The results can lead to higher compensation for victims.State regulators inspected the site but do not have authority to declare whether a scanner is “safe or unsafe,” Assistant Attorney General Margaret Bettenhausen told the judge.“They work to ensure that the bone scans will be conducted in compliance with state laws and regulations, and that’s exactly what happened,” she said.———Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwritez
Parades, picnics and lessons in history were offered Saturday to commemorate Juneteenth in the U.S., a day that carried even more significance after Congress and President Joe Biden created a federal holiday to observe the end of slavery.A new holiday was “really awesome. It’s starting to recognize the African American experience,” said Detroit artist Hubert Massey, 63. “But we still have a long way to go.”In Detroit, which is about 80% Black, students from University Prep Art & Design School dodged rain to repaint Massey’s block-long message, “Power to the People,” which was created last year on downtown Woodward Avenue.The ‘o’ in “Power” was a red fist in memory of George Floyd and other victims of excessive force by police, Massey said.“We did the original,” said Olivia Jones, 15, leaning on a long paint roller. “It’s important that we return and share that same energy.”Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. It was about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in Southern states.Biden on Thursday signed a bill creating Juneteenth National Independence Day. Since June 19 fell on a Saturday, the government observed the holiday Friday. At least nine states have designated it in law as an official paid state holiday, all but one acting after Floyd, a Black man, was killed last year in Minneapolis.In Galveston, the birthplace of the holiday, celebrations included the dedication of a 5,000-square-foot mural titled “Absolute Equality.” Opal Lee, 94, who was at Biden’s side when he signed the bill, returned to Fort Worth, Texas, to lead a 2.5-mile walk symbolizing the 2 1/2 years it took for slaves in Texas to find out they’d been freed.Officials in Bristol, Rhode Island, unveiled a marker that describes the seaport’s role in the slave trade. The marker was placed at the Linden Place Museum, a mansion built by Gen. George DeWolf, who was a slave trader. The Rhode Island Slave History Medallion organization raises public awareness about the state’s role in slavery.A street in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was renamed Saturday for civil rights activists Harry and Harriette Moore. Harry was credited with registering more than 100,000 Black voters. They were killed on Christmas Day 1951 — their 25th wedding anniversary — when a bomb exploded under their bed.The final scene of a movie about the couple, “The Price For Freedom,” was also being shot.“They were ordinary people who brought about extraordinary change and we are privileged to pay tribute to them here in Broward County,” county Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness said before the event.Hundreds of people gathered for a free concert in New York’s Times Square organized by The Broadway League, the trade group for the Broadway entertainment industry.A Juneteenth parade was held in Evanston, Illinois, a Chicago suburb that is using tax revenue from marijuana sales to offer housing grants to Black residents for past discrimination and the lingering effects of slavery.Sacramento’s Black community has organized Juneteenth festivals for 20 years, and this year’s featured a parade, talent show, food fair, the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and even a golf tournament.“This is the first Juneteenth where it’s being recognized nationally and socially, by the masses and not just within the Black community,” organizer Gary Simon said. “We’ve seen an uptick in non-Black folks coming here for the last several years, and I’m seeing the difference in just the conversations taking place today.”New York civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton offered a tough message during a speech at his National Action Network, saying Senate Republicans who voted unanimously to make Juneteenth a federal holiday should also support Democratic bills that change voting laws and make it easier to crack down on rogue police officers.“The celebration of Juneteenth is not a party. … The way to deal with Juneteenth now is to deal with where race is in 2021,” Sharpton said.In Portland, Maine, Joe Kings said his great-great-great-grandmother was enslaved. He has a picture of her on the wall of his auto detailing shop. As he has for years, Kings commemorated Juneteenth with barbecue for adults and activities for kids.“It’s a little bit more celebratory knowing that it’s official,” Kings said, referring to his annual tradition and the new holiday. “I’m not saying we were in the closet about it, but now it’s more widely recognized — and more importantly understood.”———Associated Press writers Jamie Stengle, Kelli Kennedy, David Sharp, Julie Walker and Daisy Nguyen contributed to this report.