Help Me Hank helps Detroit homeowner fighting to have sinkhole fixed in her backyard

DWSD helps resident fix collapsed sewer line

DETROIT – Sinkholes can cause significant damage, no matter how big or small they are and even if they aren't in the middle of a road.

A woman who lives on Detroit's west side said she watched a sinkhole grow bigger and bigger in her backyard, but she couldn't get answers about fixing it.

She called Local 4's Help Me Hank to find out who's responsible and how to get the city involved.

The sinkhole took out a neighbor's fence and is creeping close to Deborah White's garage. She said she's lived in the house since 1983, and she's proud of how she kept up the property.

"I don't want it to look like one of the ran-down houses in the neighborhood," White said.

After making several calls, a few wooden boards were placed on the gaping hole, and that was the only help given to White.

"I fear because I fall, and I don't want to fall in it," White said. "I had just said, 'I'm not even going to go in that area.'"

Help Me Hank called city officials, and inspectors were sent to White's home within days.

Officials said the problem isn't coming from a city pipe. They found the neighbor behind White had a collapsed sewer line, and even though it's considered a residential issue, city officials were happy to help.

"We have relined the sewer in the alley, and none of the residents are complaining of sewage backing up in their basements," said Gary Brown, director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. "We're going to go knock on the door and walk her through the process, show her how she can fix that line and then fix the sinkhole. DWSD is an institution that has a social responsibility, whether it's our problem or not."

City officials are working with the resident to get the line fixed, and they also came by to fill in the sinkhole and make sure it doesn't grow bigger.

"I couldn't get anywhere," White said. "I really appreciate you. Thank you so much."

About the Authors: