August 7, 2015
On August 11, 2014, the City of Detroit received 4.57 inches of rain, the second largest rainfall on record according to the National Weather Service. This severe weather overloaded Metro Detroit’s aging stormwater management system, leading to severe flooding of highways, disruption of Detroit’s economy and critical manufacturing and freight operations, damage to over 70,000 Detroit homes and businesses, and the discharge of over 10 billion gallons of combined sewer overflow, threatening the overall health of Great Lakes water system and Metro Detroit’s water supply. The State of Michigan estimated the total residential and commercial flood damage for the three-county Metro Detroit area to be over $1.1 billion, and on September 25, 2014 the President of the United States declared a major disaster in the State of Michigan. In responding to the 2014 flooding disaster, Detroit has a powerful imperative to not only address the unmet needs and vulnerabilities associated with severe weather and flooding, but also to establish more resilient, cost effective, and innovative infrastructure systems that can improve quality of life. In support of this objective, Detroit Future City, alongside partner University of Detroit Mercy Detroit Collaborative Design Center, is providing broad technical assistance to the City, advocating for the incorporation of resilience objectives in project planning, developing proposals for resilience projects, and supporting requests for resources from public and philanthropic sources.
• Address unmet needs and ongoing vulnerabilities through resilience project planning and development;
• Transform vacant and underutilized land into innovative open spaces that can address future storm events but also stimulate economic development, support essential reinvestment, improve environmental and health conditions, and encourage thriving communities.
• Improve the fundamental value proposition for residents and businesses to be in the city by improving delivery, reducing costs, and moving beyond traditional legacy infrastructures to create a more sustainable city.
Detroit Future City recommended a technical feasibility, visioning, and community engagement process to develop a citywide plan for an open space network. Detroit Future City also provided a larger resilient recovery concept, recommending the investment in renewable energy systems and sustainable natural systems in the form of green and blue infrastructure to help prevent untreated discharges of combined sewer overflows into the Great Lakes, improve air quality, reduce heat island effect, create new jobs and job training opportunities, and provide new amenities that improve the quality of life for current and future Detroiters. Detroit Future City continues to provide additional technical assistance to the City.