FRASER (WWJ) — Governor Rick Snyder took a tour of the site of the giant sinkhole in Fraser on Sunday afternoon.
Snyder declared a state of emergency in the city of Fraser on Friday, which means the possibility of state funding to help deal with the problem opens up and authorizes the State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate state efforts.
“It was important to go see it in first-person,” Snyder told reporters. “I had an opportunity to meet one of the residents — we need to understand that this impacts real people’s lives in terms of having to leave their homes, other challenges and also the long-term risk associated with this.”
Snyder met with Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candace Miller and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel on Sunday, where Hackel said he is glad state officials are seeing the problems first hand.
“I think what we need is public officials to come to the realization that we have serious infrastructure issues,” Hackel said. “I remember being at the Governor’s first State of the State when he started talking about roads, roads funding being about $1.2 billion. I think that he would agree that that’s shy of what we really need to fix our roads and bridges, but the infrastructure underground is just as problematic.”
More than 20 Fraser families were temporarily displaced, three homes were condemned and roads were shut down when the sinkhole began opening up on Christmas Eve near 15 Mile Rd. and Hayes.
Authorities say the sinkhole arose due to a sewer pipe collapse about 45 feet under the ground. Water, sanitary sewer and gas have all been cut off. Crews have also started pumping sewage into the Clinton River as a way to alleviate possible flooding in homes. Residents in the area are advised to clear their basement floors as a precaution.
“This illustrates our aging infrastructure, this illustrates why it was so important we just did the Infrastructure commission to say ‘we need to be looking out not for the next 50 years, but these issues are showing up today — in Flint and here — we need to get on top of them and start making smart investigations and being good partners working together to improve our infrastructure,'” Snyder said.
Over 500,000 residents and their properties could be impacted if the ground shifts from this sinkhole. A water conservation order remains in effect for much of the county now.
With repairs estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars, Hackel said local resources are not enough to cope with the situation, so state and federal aid are needed.