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Board member Civil Engineer Beirakdar led a conversation in our recent conference addressing the flooding on I-94 in the summer of 2021, which hit the Detroit Metro area especially hard. A high concentration of the Arab-American community, including many SAEA members, live and work in this region and are personally invested in the investigation of this failure.

The Michigan Department of Transportation attributed the cause of the flooding to a power failure. The storms took out the power, removing the ability to get power to the pump houses. This meant water could not be pulled out effectively and began to accumulate fast in low lying portions of major freeways.

A lively discussion ensued as this infrastructure failure involved SAEA members from multiple engineering disciplines including civil, mechanical, electrical, and environmental engineering. Members speculate on the technical failures and shortcomings of water drainage networks and the combined effect of loss of electrical power and pumping capacity–including the domino effect paralyzing portions of a major US metropolitan area.