Councilman's Corner: Monsoon hits Collinwood-- Where do we go from here?

What a storm! Residents of Ward 11 know now what it is to experience a Monsoon Rain! In the wee morning hours of Saturday, July 20th, our community along with the City of Euclid and western Lake County, were hit with a monumental rain and wind storm which left hundreds of basements contaminated with storm and sanitary back-up. The weather service estimated that anywhere between 4”-6” of rain fell within less than an hour, which is unprecedented!

The City of Cleveland’s Division of Water Pollution Control indicated that there is no residential sewer system in the City that could have taken that volume of water in such a short period of time. In fact, Euclid Creek crested before 6:00 AM and completely engulfed the new wetland project in Wildwood Lakefront Park.

Besides the obvious damage to people’s homes and possessions, is ‘where do we go from here?’  “We are finding that many homeowner’s insurance policies do not or will not cover severe basement flooding as a result of a sewer / storm system back-up unless you had a rider/endorsement on your policy specifically covering ‘back-up of sewers or drains’,” according to Furlong Insurance on East 185th Street. As a result, an overwhelming number of families are left to fend for themselves and face massive repairs and replacement costs.  That is why on July 24th Cuyahoga County declared a “State of Emergency” at the request of the City of Cleveland and the City of Euclid.

No one knows at this point if there will be any State or Federal aid in the offering in light of the stringent requirements and provisions set forth by Regulators. We have been told that homeowners should have been taking picture and documenting their losses; which in some homes has been substantial.  If there is any opportunity to file a claim you must have proof of the damage inflicted to your property. In the interim time all homeowners should check with their insurance agent to make sure you have the rider on your policy.  The cost is inexpensive when you consider the damage even a few inches of water can do. I myself have the rider on my policy having experienced a flooded basement many years ago.

However, it is critical to get all damaged carpeting, furniture, dry wall, paneling, and appliances out of the damaged areas as soon as possible to prohibit the growth of mold and mildew which can cause respiratory problems.  What is most important though is that the basement needs to be dried out as soon as possible.

Furthermore, I am hearing from affected families that they are being told all types of things by repairmen as it pertains to the replacement of hot water tanks, furnaces, air conditioning units and other appliances. PLEASE, according to our long-established neighborhood businesses, McPhillip’s Plumbing on Waterloo Road and Reader Plumbing on East 152 Street, you might not have to replace these items. Some furnaces and hot water tanks can be cleaned, dried out, and repaired. Get an expert’s opinion from a company who is bonded and licensed before you replace anything.  There is no doubt there will be unscrupulous individuals trying to take advantage of storm victims from our community to Lake County as a result of this severe flooding.

On Tuesday, August 13th, representatives of the City’s Water Pollution Control Division and the Northeast Regional Sewer District will be attending the East 185th Street Block Watch Meeting to discuss the issue in more detail.  The Meeting will be held at the Lithuanian Village Hall located at 877 East 185th Street beginning at 6:30 PM. We hope to get updates on the status of the flooding, on projects that are already underway and sewer projects being planned to help address this very critical problem.  However, it is clear that even after all the sewer infrastructure projects which have been completed to date in Ward 11, which have cost millions of dollars, there is no way, according to experts, that we can completely prevent future flooding should we experience a storm of epic proportions, once again.

If you have any questions, please contact my office at (216) 664-4236 or email me via

Here are some simple steps our residents should take if they have flooding or storm damage:

  1. Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box if it can be done without standing in water, even if the power is out. If residents cannot get to the electrical panel without standing in water, they should contact their local supplier to request electrical service to the property be turned off. For Cleveland Public Power customers, the CPP Trouble Line is 216-664-3156.
  2. Report water in the basement or street flooding to Cleveland Water Pollution Control by calling 216-664-2513. The customer service unit will collect the information and take any action they can to assist in draining the water.
  3. Report storm-related stream flooding, unstable stream banks, or stream maintenance issues (like blockages caused from large floating debris) to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District at 216 881-8247.
  4. Download the Repairing Your Flooded Home book from for information about:
    • How to enter a flooded home safely.
    • How to protect their home and belongings from further damage.
    • How to record damage to support insurance claims and requests for assistance.
    • How to check for gas or water leaks and how to have service restored.
    • How to clean up appliances, furniture, floors and other belongs.
  5. Call their insurance agent or company as soon as possible.
  6. Take reasonable steps to prevent additional damage assuming there is no danger to the resident to do so.
  7. Closely inspect property for damage. Note and photograph any damage.
  8. If required to seek temporary housing, residents should check their policy for “loss of use” coverage.
  9. Be sure everything is considered in the insurance claim and back up claims with written estimates.
  10. See the Severe Storm Recovery Toolkit from the Ohio Department of Insurance website
  11. For information about social, health and government resources 24 hours a day, contact United Way by dialing 2-1-1 or visiting

Mike Polensek


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Volume 5, Issue 7, Posted 11:01 AM, 08.09.2013