(WXYZ) — Hundreds, maybe thousands of victims have filed claims for damage from sewer backups from June to the Great Lakes Water Authority. But, how many claims and how much they are seeking, the Authority says in a statement is not known.
Danielle Ryan says she wants the Authority to read every claim including hers. “And if they doubt this, come to my house,” she tells 7 Action News.
Her basement has original wood paneling from 100 years ago removed and stacked up and behind it mold. There are dangling electrical wires and gas lines. The water came in on June 26 through floor drains and the toilet in the basement. They have an industrial air scrubber cleaning the air. Their insurance won’t pay for them to live someplace else. “We have headaches, nosebleeds, dizzy spells. We can’t be down here without respirators. That is not safe.”
Danielle has applied to The Great Lakes Water Authority and FEMA but FEMA has denied their claim. FEMA has told us they pay to make homes habitable. But not here. Danielle has appealed. “Am I allowed to say pissed? Livid. Infuriated. I don’t understand how FEMA can say we're here to make homes habitable and safe.”
Paul Doherty is with the Ven Johnson Law Firm the first to file a Class Action Lawsuit. He says they’ve filed more than 600 claims with the GLWA but expects them to pay nothing. Doherty says “it’s a runaround” because state law required the GLWA to take claims.
And the $10 Million in general liability coverage the GLWA has, Doherty says, “That’s shocking. They take in $500 million a year.”
Sue McCormick the CEO of the GLWA is resigning. Her final date may be known tomorrow when the GLWA Board meets in person at 11am at Renaissance High School, 6565 Outer Drive in Detroit.
Below are the statements from Randal Brown, General Counsel, GLWA who answered our questions.
- How many claims have been filed so far?
- At this time, GLWA is still receiving and processing claims from the June 25-26, 2021, rain event, which impacted many communities in southeast Michigan. Given the volume of claims and the multiple ways that GLWA accepts claims, the number of claims received will not be known for weeks.
- What are the amounts being requested for reimbursements in the claims received so far?
- At this time, GLWA is still receiving and processing claims from the June 25-26, 2021, rain event, which impacted many communities in southeast Michigan. Given the volume of claims and the multiple ways that GLWA accepts claims, the amount requested for reimbursement will not be known for weeks.
- What is the review process from GLWA?
- Michigan law establishes the criteria for determining a valid claim. Under Michigan’s Governmental Liability for Negligence Act, a defect in the sewage disposal system must be a substantial proximate cause of the sewer backup event and the property damage and physical injury. GLWA is evaluating how the whole system operated during the June 25-26, 2021 rain event to determine if a defect existed.
- What kind of insurance does GLWA have and how would these payouts be covered?
- GLWA maintains general liability coverage that may cover the claims related to the rain event. Typically, such a determination will not be made until after claims are submitted as a part of the adjustment process for those claims.
- Has there been a specific fund or budget set up to cover these claims?
- Not at this time.
- The deadline to drop off a claim is 5 p.m. Is that the same for claims that are submitted via email, or is it midnight?
- Midnight on Tuesday, August 10, 2021 for e-mails; mailed claims must be postmarked August 10, 2021.
- Can GLWA confirm its insurance coverage is $10 million? If so, what happens if the claims filed exceed $10 million?
- GLWA maintains $10 million in general liability coverage that may cover the claims related to the rain event. It is too early to speculate that GLWA will be responsible for more than $10 million in damages. GLWA continues to reiterate that residents should apply for FEMA assistance to recover some of their costs from the June 25-26, 2021 rain event. In addition, residents that are not eligible for FEMA assistance may be eligible for the state of Michigan’s $10 million state emergency aid fund related to the June 25-26, 2021 rain event.
08/09/21 storm alert:
- Given the storm alert sent out last night that warned some minor flooding, did everything go as planned or were there any issues?
- The regional system functioned as designed and experienced no operational issues.