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Snyder declares Macomb sinkhole emergency; families return to some homes next week

Homes on Eberlein Rd. in Fraser were still restricted access on Friday. Most families displaced by the sinkhole should be able to move back next week.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
Homes on Eberlein Rd. in Fraser were still restricted access on Friday. Most families displaced by the sinkhole should be able to move back next week.

Governor Snyder has declared a state of emergency for Macomb County, following a sewer collapse and sinkhole in Fraser on Christmas Eve.

The declaration should open up more state funding for fixing the sinkhole, which will likely run into the tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.

“The terrible situation in Fraser has displaced families and caused a burden to those living in the area,” Snyder said. “The state is committed to using all of its resources and working with local partners to ensure this community recovers and residents return to a sense of normalcy. I’d like to thank emergency responders and the many others who have been working hard to address this situation.”

The declaration has made available state resources in cooperation with local recovery efforts in the affected area, and authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts, the state said in a new release.

Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said this may seem like a very contained disaster that impacts relatively few people.

But, “If we do have a wet weather event, you could have a catastrophe,” she said. “With sewage in people’s basements, or overflows into the river -- millions of gallons, which I think is an emergency.”

Fraser Mayor Joe Nichols says the emergency declaraion should help speed up repairs already underway. “The project knows where the money’s coming from, and it does move more quickly with that funding available,” he said.

Nineteen families who were temporarily displaced as a result of the sinkhole should be able to move back into their homes next week, Nichols said.

“There’s been a mammoth effort on the part of everyone that’s been involved since Christmas Eve morning to accomplish that goal, and we have accomplished that goal,” he said.

Another three families will not be able to do that, because their homes have been condemned.

“Now our focus has to simply be worrying about and taking care of and really working towards establishing 'normal' for the families that have been permanently displaced,” Nichols said.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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