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Belle Isle battles to recover from flooding, coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

Grand Prix helps clean up island

DETROIT – Belle Isle is working to recover from two problems that struck this fall: flooding from excessive rain and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Staff members are working to recover, but it could take some time.

To many, Belle Isle is one of the most beautiful places in Detroit

“Belle Isle is a jewel,” frequent visitor Jesse Brown said. “It’s a gem.”

“The nature, the beauty,” frequent visitor Bryan Hernandez said.

But the island has certainly looked better in the past.

“With all the investment that has been going on with Belle Isle, and with all, you know, the millions of people who come in visit here, something absolutely needs to be done so we can utilize it more,” said Jacob Brown, the unit supervisor for Belle Isle Park.

Excessive Flooding has caused parts of Belle Isle to close. Within that flooded area is the Blue Herron Lagoon -- a project that’s been put on hold.

“When the pandemic hit, we stopped a lot of projects, and that was one of them that stopped,” Jacob Brown said.

He said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s orders made it difficult to keep the island clean.

“Part of the executive order was about picking up trash, so if you saw litter, it’s, it’s not that we weren’t wanting to get it, and sometimes it’s putting employees at risk of being exposed,” Jacob Brown said.

Now that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is back to work, the trash is getting picked up. The island is also getting help from the Grand Prix, even though the event was cancelled this year.

“They have workers out here cutting grass,” Jacob Brown said. “They paid for that.”

Only time will tell what damage the flooding has done.

In the past, when water levels have been high, it took until about August for the flooding to go away, so a section of the island could remain closed for the rest of the summer.

The Grand Prix Organization also paid for the Belle Isle fountain to turn on again this summer.


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