At least 24 families in Michigan got something they most certainly did not want for Christmas this year: a massive sinkhole in their neighborhood.
From Detroit Free Press:
Sue Albu and her husband awoke to sounds of popping at about 4 a.m. on Christmas Eve. They could tell something was off.
Two hours later, she had trouble opening the doors in her Eberlein Drive home — the frame of the house had begun to shift. Albu called the police. Her home was sinking into the ground.
“We were out,” Albu, a business analyst, told the Free Press Saturday evening. “I mean, it was just trying to grab what we could to salvage it.”
At least two dozen homes have been evacuated, and so far, three houses are at risk of being condemned. Residents reported feeling their foundations move and hearing banging and cracking in their walls.
Sue Albu said she doesn’t think she will return to her home:
“The house was still cracking and you felt the walls shifting while you were still in the house,” she said. “I doubt we will be going back home. Our house has sunk.”
It is believed that the 100-foot-wide, 250-foot-long sinkhole was caused by a leaky sewer line between Utica and Hayes, and it is raising questions about the maintenance of the infrastructure in the area. Twelve years ago, a smaller collapse led to a $50 million fix that took 10 months to complete.
On Christmas Day, things got worse: the city posted a warning on its website that Macomb County Public Works found a “possibility of sewage backups” in basements from the break on Garfield to 18 Mile and told homeowners to “remove items from the basement floor and monitor the situation”, reports The Detroit News.
Police have closed 15 Mile Road, and the city has declared a state of emergency in the area.
On Monday, crews pumped sewage from the sinkhole into the Clinton River in an attempt to prevent sewage issues for the families who are already impacted by the sinkhole. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said it is trying to minimize harm to the environment.
And, on Tuesday, crews from Macomb County Public Works struck a natural gas line, which is reportedly being repaired today.
The sinkhole has ties to the corruption that took down former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who is serving 28 years in federal prison in Oklahoma for multiple crimes, Detroit Free Press reports:
Kilpatrick’s alleged racketeering and contract-fixing included a $54.3-million contract for repair of the 2004 sinkhole on 15 Mile Road in Sterling Heights.
That repair came up several times at Kilpatrick’s corruption trial, during which the mayor was accused of steering the sinkhole job to his longtime contractor friend, Bobby Ferguson, who also was convicted and sentenced to 21 years in federal prison in 2013. Macomb County, in a lawsuit, accused the mayor of “a widespread scheme to overcharge” for the project, including “invoicing for work not actually performed and for charging grossly improper rates for work it did perform.” A judge ultimately dismissed Macomb’s suit, ruling the county lacked standing to file it.
The scheme ended up overbilling the city of Detroit by $23 million, according to another lawsuit filed by the city of Detroit, which has unsuccessfully sought to have Kilpatrick pay the lost money back.
Residents who have been evacuated will not be able to return to their homes for at least two weeks, officials say. That is, if they have homes left to return to.
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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”