FLAT ROCK, Mich. – Students attending school in Flat Rock will begin the academic year in person as planned on Tuesday, despite a gas leak that has caused some evacuations in the area.
Ford Motor Company on Wednesday discovered a gas leak at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant. The company shut down the pipe and thought the spill was contained to its property, but that wasn’t the case. Officials have identified two zones that are potentially exposed to dangerous benzene fumes from the leak.
In zone one -- which is bordered by I-75, Gibraltar Road, Cahill Road and Woodruff Road -- a voluntary recommended evacuation has been issued for residents and businesses. Officials said Sunday that about 10 homes and one business have been evacuated so far.
The River Heights Academy charter school has also been evacuated amid the leak. The school, which is set to begin the academic year on Tuesday, Sept. 7, is holding in-person classes as scheduled, but at a different location.
River Heights Academy students will report to the Wayne County Community College Downriver campus for classes Tuesday and until their regular building reopens. Officials say students will follow their typical schedule, starting classes at 7:50 a.m., and will be provided transportation, breakfast, lunch and snacks.
Students will also be required to wear face masks. School officials say that additional logistics have been communicated to families already.
Flat Rock Community Schools will also begin the academic year Tuesday in person as scheduled. Students will report to their school building as usual, despite the emergency situation.
District officials said Sunday that all five school buildings were tested and did not show any signs of exposure to the gas leak. Superintendent Andrew Brodie said that the district is working with the Environmental Protection Agency and will continue to be advised by them amid the ongoing issue.
“I know this may be a challenge for some of our residents and their children, but providing a safe haven and some normalcy has the potential to have an incredibly positive impact on the students,” Brodie wrote Sunday.
City officials say a team that is working to relocate affected Flat Rock residents will be at the Flat Rock Community High School Monday until around 8 p.m. Affected households are being provided hotel vouchers amid the emergency situation.
The Flat Rock Riverfest scheduled for Sept. 10-11 has been canceled due to the gas leak.
More: Downriver news