Beech Street Residents Barely Managing Floodwater
The 1000 block of Beech Street is a small stretch of road between Hazel and Elm; a diverse, working-class neighborhood just a little northeast of REO Town. And right now, it’s basically a lake.
Most of the homes on this street can’t be reached from the front because of the water, so I walked around to knock on the back doors I could get to, soaking my sneakers in the process.
“This is the situation right now, look,” says Jesse Anguiano, inviting me in to see the water level in his home. “All the stuff in the basement is completely... the furnace, the water heater, everything, furniture is actually swimming around.”
Some people on the block had to be evacuated. The fire department helped get a veteran in a wheelchair out of his house. Anguiano thought about going to a shelter, but he was too concerned with keeping the water out of his house to risk leaving.
“The fear of the water rising, I wouldn’t sleep, I wouldn’t sleep, I wouldn’t sleep,” he says. “I would hear something from downstairs and I would just get up and my heart just started to pump very quickly and I would shake. I had like three moments of anxiety episodes that I had to like shake because of the uncertainty of the situation.”
Anguiano is a PhD student at Western Michigan University. He shows me a bag he packed with his important papers in case he needed to evacuate.
“It's a backpack which has the deed of the house, my personal documents, my birth certificate, my passport, my research.”
Anguiano was able to park his car away from the rising water. He woke up at 6 am Friday and went to Menards to buy two more water pumps.
“Minutes count. Especially yesterday because one of my pumps went down, so I was only using one. The water kept climbing and climbing, and I’m pretty sure if I wouldn’t have gotten the two others we would have been flooded.”
Anguiano says no one came by, contacted him, or warned residents that the flooding could get this bad. A few of his neighbors said the same.
John Pavlik owns a house across from Anguiano. He rents it out to the man in the wheelchair who had to be evacuated last minute. He wades over in tall rubber boots to talk to me.
“I remember this well! I was here for the ‘75 flood, just like it.”
I ask him how it compares to the 1975 flood.
“It’s pretty much the same, the only difference is the emergency response was better, the fire department came around and knocked on all the doors. And this time, nothing.”
A few houses down, Dorothy Bywater also wasn’t prepared for this much flooding. She has a suction pump running, and water is gushing out of a pipe into the yard on the side of her house. She shows me her basement.
“I tried to use that to get the water out and bucket it,” she points to a large bucket floating in the basement. “It went up high, and now it’s taking it down because it was all the way up to there, see? Right there. Now it’s going out like it’s supposed to. Thank God.”
To everyone’s relief, the water does seem to be receding. But unfortunately, the residents of Beech Street can’t relax just yet.