Officials: Fraser sinkhole situation could get worse before it gets better

State of emergency declared; residents remain evacuated from homes

By Sierra Pedraja - Editor, Koco McAboy - Reporter

FRASER, Mich. - The mayor of Fraser declared a state of emergency Sunday after a massive sinkhole opened on 15 Mile Road, forcing people to evacuate from nearly two dozen homes.

The sinkhole caused one home to partially collapse and there are concerns about other houses in the area.

There were 22 families unable to return home.

The sinkhole began forming Friday night underneath a house on Eberlien Drive. Portions of the home were damaged as a result.

Engineers said they’re working to find a solution, but they don’t know the exact size of the sinkhole. The road and power lines continued to cave in Saturday.

Officials are also worried about a house next door and a home across the street.
 
“(We’re) looking to reroute, so residents can get (the) contents (of their homes) because they'll be out for some time,” Fraser Mayor Joe Nichols said.

Construction crews at the scene said the situation likely started because of a possible sewer failure 60 feet below one of the homes. 
 
“I'm concerned about the businesses across the street (and) I'm concerned about the apartments across the street,” Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon said. “We're going to be closing down Garfield Road for traffic -- (and) Utica Road and 15 Mile further down the street.”

Perhaps the biggest worry involves the possibility of sewage finding its way into the Clinton River, Cannon said.

“It’s going to happen with a rain event,” he said.

The city attorney for Fraser, Jack Dolan, said the opposite.

“That would only occur as a last resort,” he said.

Either way, officials said the situation could get worse before it gets better.

“The engineers are getting together to work out some solutions,” Cannon said. “They don't know how big the problem is yet. They don’t know how big the sinkhole is going to be. All they know is it's going to be bigger than the last one.”

Cannon is referring to the sinkhole from 2004.

Residents in the area told Local 4 they feel stuck, and they want more information.

On Sunday night, engineers said the sewer line is running, but is partially obstructed.

Still, residents said they’re left with too many unanswered questions about the entire ordeal.

“We're stuck because there's only one way in and one way out,” said Patricia Weidner, who lives on the Clinton Township side of the mess, in the Kings Forest Condominiums. That’s right across the street from where the sinkhole opened up.

Weidner has since had to park in the lot of a nearby business.

“We come in (and) we can’t park,” she said. “What happens tomorrow when this business opens up? Where (are) we going to go? … The cities and Fraser and them needed to do a little bit more.”

Cannon also believes something more should have been done.

“Here we go again,” Cannon said. “This system should have been inspected.”
 
The sewer line hasn’t been inspected for at least 10 years, Cannon said.

“This is the third time this line has collapsed,” Cannon said.

One of those times was the instance previously mentioned, in 2004.
 
“How's it going to affect the values of our homes when this kind of stuff keeps happening?” Weidner asked.

The sinkhole situation has affected more than just the 22 displaced families.

“I feel so bad for that family, but I feel bad for everyone,” Weidner said. “It's just not them. It's everybody here.”

A City Council hearing was set for 11 a.m. Monday at Fraser City Hall. The mayor said officials hope to address residents’ concerns. The full meeting is available below.

Crews were attempting to set up a flow line to prevent sewage from backing up into nearby homes and rivers. Sewage had already begun to back up in the basements of the homes in the affected area.

Police initially responded to a 911 call Friday night after family members residing in the home said it was sinking into the foundation.

"We saw the bricks fall from the side of the house," said Tremetrice Smith, who lives next door. "We saw the separation from the front of the house and leaning toward 15 Mile."

All residents living on Eberlien Drive were evacuated as a precaution. A senior center near the end of the street opened for residents who didn’t have a place to go.

"If it swallows his house, it might take ours with it," Smith said.

David Bogdan rushed out with two suitcases. He grabbed what he could in minutes.

"Yes, clothes and valuables, and Christmas presents," Bogdan said.

REPLAY: Fraser and Macomb County officials update residents on 15 Mile Road sinkhole

GoFundMe has been created for the family who owns the first home that was damaged as a result of the sinkhole.

 

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