Ford Motor Company speaks with Flat Rock residents after chemical leak prompts evacuations, school closure

EGLE estimates 1,000-3,000 gallons spilled

Health officials have issued a “voluntary recommended evacuation” for a Flat Rock neighborhood the potential risk from a gas leak.

FLAT ROCK, Mich. – Health officials have issued a “voluntary recommended evacuation” for a Flat Rock neighborhood the potential risk from a gas leak.

Ford Motor Company spoke to Flat Rock residents Sunday for the first time about the gas leak that led to the evacuations.

“I want to apologize again for what happened and the people whose lives are impacted,” said Ford environmental and safety officer Bob Holycross.

Ford Motor Company has launched a million dollar reimbursement fund for evacuated and displaced families in Flat Rock.

“We’ve secured hotel rooms so that affected neighbors have a safe place to go until they can be assured there’s no risk at home,” Holycross. “The care packages and gift cards; that’s the least we can do as a start.”

Ford said the leak at its Flat Rock Assembly Plant was discovered Wednesday. The company shut down the pipe and believed the leak was contained to the property.

“On Friday, we determined the scale of the fuel leak was much larger,” Holycross said. “Ford is the source of the problem.”

Federal, state and county officials have identified two areas of concern.

Residents in zone one are recommended to evacuate the area. Zone one borders I-75, Gibraltar Road, Cahill Road and Woodruff Road.

Officials are investigating zone two for potential exposure. Zone two borders Gibraltar Road, Sheeks Road, East Huron River Drive and Tamarack Road.

Response teams began going door-to-door in the impacted areas Sunday. Officials said they are unsure how wide-spread the exposure could be as they do not have enough data yet.

Rose Ruber decided it wasn’t safe to stay in the area.

“At first, I was going to stay and then I saw on Local 4 that everybody is evacuating,” Ruber said. “Family said, ‘Get out of there,’ and all of a sudden, everybody feels like they’re coughing or have a sore throat.”

About 10 homes, a business and River Heights Academy charter school have been evacuated so far. Authorities said it could take weeks for response teams to determine how widespread the exposure is and when it will be safe for residents to return home.

Anyone smelling a chemical-like odor is asked to contact the Flat Rock Fire Department at 734-782-2496 and dial 0.

Anyone needing assistance with evacuation or relocation should call the city’s hotline at 734-782-2455 and dial 6.

Prior coverage:

More: Downriver news

About the Authors:

Priya joined WDIV-Local 4 in 2013 as a reporter and fill-in anchor. Education: B.A. in Communications/Post Grad in Advanced Journalism

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.