There is some uncertainty if this development is an area subject to flooding.  We have both oral history and observations as well as the personal experiences of persons who rescued flood victims with boats.  The FEMA official flood map may show different information than local experience.  Before buying a lot for building or an existing home, inquire diligently if the site is subject to flooding.  Unfortunately, not all developers or realtors will recall what the old timers know.

Building in a Flood Plain - Yes - No?

1969 Flooding on  Elm looking toward Maple Boulevard Note City Trucks Attempting to Clear Ice Flooding Hospital Enlarged Portion From Photo one on Periodic River Raisin Flooding

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SeePeriodic River Raisin Flooding

The Two Houses on the Right were Denied Building Permits for Basements

As you look south from this perspective, you are looking into what is considered the 100-year food plain hazard area on Maple.  In other words, statistical data maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency indicates that persons may be eligible for flood insurance from their insurance agent.  There is some opinion that it is ill advised to build in such areas.  There is every likelihood that flooding in this area will become more severe as upstream drainage of farmland and especially urban development occurs.  Thus, the runoff from snowmelt and heavy rains will release water more rapidly increasing river flow rates.  Higher flow rates, measured in thousands of cubic feet per second have a direct relationship on the river level.  The flood stage in Monroe is nine feet.

Some years ago, the two homes on the right were denied building permits for basements by Building Official Michael Bosanac, now retired.  The denial was appealed to the Zoning Board of Appeals and the denial was upheld.  Official Bosanac was a Monroe Police Officer during floods and had rescued persons in the area using a boat during periods of flooding.  Therefore, building costs were higher for a religious group that built them because they did not have available basement space in which persons in need could store their belongings.  In this case, it is the writers opinion that the appellants were provided compassion and mercy by someone saying no.

A parking area is seen in the middle of the boulevard in the Detroit Edison tower line right-of-way.  This was considered an abandoned non-conforming use provided for a hospital converted to a nursing home.  This was used as a local parking area without Edison permission and after some difficulty was restored to grass and appropriate landscaping by Edison

The hospital was owned by an association, which started the protestant Memorial Hospital on Stewart road.  The building was plagued with lower level flooding problems.  The building was sold to a nursing home operator who gave it to a religious group after being abandoned by the nursing home operator for manifest difficulties.  The abandoned structure became an eyesore.  After police problems with its occupancy by tramps and confrontations with the owners, the property was sold and the structure demolished. 


Flood Resistant Basement

Many factors must be considered when building a basement in any area subject to periodic flooding or even a high ground water table.  The City of Monroe was once the bed of Lake Erie and is mostly hard clay over limestone bedrock.  See The City Of Monroe Built On Limestone.  Basements of these homes are only a few feet from or on bedrock.

Clay is very resistant to water transport.  This is an advantage to the homebuilder is the basement is dug just big enough to accommodate the foundation walls.  Drain tile around the footer on both the inside and outside tied to a sump with an effective pumping system is essential.  The discharge must be routed outside of the structure, not the sanitary sewer. 

Avoid running the sewer line into the basement level.  Any discharge from washing machines and other wastewater should be pumped to the sewer through a check valve to avoid sewer backup.

When backfilling the foundation use gravel or crushed rock to within perhaps 18 inches of ground level.  Cover the stone with heavy plastic sheeting cemented to the foundation and sloping away at a slight angle placed into the clay sidewalls.  Cover this with clay, which will help act as a seal.  Grade the area around the structure so the ground slopes away.

All of this work adds to the cost of a home, but the result can be the difference between a leaky flooded basement and a dry basement.  If the basement excavation is backfilled with clay, annual freezing and thawing cycles will tend to crack the basement walls at the frost line heaving them inwards.  This is a more pronounced problem with block walls than properly constructed formed poured walls having proper concrete mixes and sufficient proper reinforcing steel bar placement.  The quality of workmanship of the foundation contractor is essential to success. 

In the event of a flood, basement window openings and entryways can be sandbagged.  It is important to remember that the function of a sump pump is to remove the water that is under the basement floor and against the basement walls.  If the object is to simply pump out flooding without aggregate backfill and stone under the floor the basement may try to float out of the ground.  While it is rare for the basement to float out intact is rare, buckling of basement floors and walls is a normal result of the moderate hydraulic pressure of water against a large area.

This information is not engineering advice.  It is based on personal observation of the writer.  Direct any inquires to a professional engineer.  The City Engineering Department can be helpful.  The engineers maintain the latest FEMA flood maps and these are availanle for public inspection.


Two Homes on the Site of the Historic Protestant Hospital are for sale.  Executive Homes in Monroe have a Rapid Turnover Reflecting a Good Economy

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