Storm and equipment issues tax Farmington, Hills infrastructure

More unusual August weather, coupled with equipment problems, left many Farmington area neighborhoods flooded and/or without power Friday.

By 6:30 p.m., more than 3,200 DTE customers remained without power:

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  • An equipment problem affected 551 north and south of Grand River, from Orchard Lake to Power Road, starting around 9:30 p.m. Thursday
  • Lightning struck a transformer at 8:27 a.m. Friday, putting 2,105 in an area east and west of Drake Road, between I-696 and 10 Mile, in the dark
  • Gusting winds knocked out power at 11:45 a.m. for 1,347 in that same area.
Mayfield Street Farmington 082721
Mayfield in Farmington flooded Friday morning after a heavy rain. (Nicole Rottet)

Locals accounted for nearly 25 percent of 13,824 DTE customers without power.

The neighborhoods hit Friday have seen several long power outages this summer. Farmington area officials and residents have filed complaints with the Michigan Public Service Commission over longstanding grid reliability issues.

(If you have experienced extended or multiple power outages this month, share your experience with state officials through the August Power Outages Feedback Form.)

Streets, back yards flood

Storm water flooded streets and backyards across Farmington and Farmington Hills, after 1.5 inches of rain fell in just 20 minutes late Friday morning. Some of the most frustrated residents live on Mayfield in Farmington, where the city completed a project just last year designed to stop flooding.

The street runs from Grand River to Cloverdale, just west of Power Road.

Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Chuck Eudy said the Mayfield flooding likely happened for a few reasons. A contractor working in the area saw a load of mulch wash away. Once workers removed debris, the water receded, he said.

Supply chain issues have held up replacement of a “storm surge cover” at Mayfield and Slocum. It’s designed to keep water from spilling out from the sewer lines.

“The July 26 (storm) event blew the cover off,” Eudy said. “There was so much pressure… it buckled the asphalt.”

Historic storms

The larger issue, however, may take years to address. Main storm sewer lines on Grand River and Cloverdale, built decades ago, simply aren’t large enough to handle historic rainfall amounts.

Eudy said DPW retirees told him they’ve never seen this many wet-weather events with this frequency, or storm damage similar to what happened on July 7.

“The ultimate fix, we need a larger diameter storm sewer on Grand River,” Eudy said.

That is the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) responsibility. MDOT regularly maintains the line and has spent $50,000 on additional storm sewer structures, he added.

The city has also spent significant dollars on the problem. Along with the Mayfield project, workers cleared the storm sewer system at Farmington West Apartments on Grand River just west of Mayfield.

“We’re doing our best with the funding we have and our best engineering advice,” Eudy said. “We can’t build a system for every storm event.”

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