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In June 2021, a storm dumped more than six inches of rain on parts of Detroit. It overwhelmed the city’s outdated stormwater system. Streets flooded, and wastewater backed up into thousands of homes.

For some residents, flooding has become all too familiar as climate change brings more extreme rain.

Environmental consultant Jalonne White-Newsome says her parents’ house has flooded five times.

“And in my parents’ situation, they have had over $200,000 in losses from these five floods. And that’s just the physical stuff. But when you think about the cost of stress, the cost of health, the cost of just being displaced, that’s something that is hard to put a monetary value on,” she says.

Flooding is often worst in low-income minority neighborhoods, which are often low-lying and may have fewer parks and trees to help absorb water.

So to protect those most vulnerable, White-Newsome and others are pushing for the city to improve its storm drainage and sewage systems.

“We just need to not put a duct tape on the systems that are supposed to protect us, but actually fix them, actually invest in them,” she says.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media