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Sinkhole in Fraser has residents and business owners worried

Fraser home falling into the sinkhole.
Bryce Huffman
Michigan Radio
Fraser home falling into the second sinkhole the city has seen in 12 years.

A busted sewer line could be to blame for the sinkhole in suburban Detroit that was discovered on Saturday, according to city officials.

The sinkhole that caused 22 homes in Fraser to be evacuated on Christmas Eve has residents and business owners concerned.

The stretch of 15 Mile Road between Hayes and Utica roads is largely being blocked off by police.

Dean Rabhi owns the Amsoil franchise on 15 Mile Road, a few blocks from the sinkhole, and he's worried the road closure could have the same effect as one in 2004, when a sinkhole happened less than a mile away.

“Before the first one, we used to do about 100 cars a day. And when they shut 15 Mile down for about 10 months, we lost about 90% of our business,” Rabhi said.

Rabhi said a couple years after the sinkhole in 2004 was fixed, business began to return to normal.

“Then we had the construction going on [on 15 Mile Road], they fixed the road for about two months,” he said, “we lost a lot of business. Right after that, business is back to normal. Two weeks later, we have this mess.”

Shelly Sullivan lives down the street from where the sinkhole was discovered. She and her husband were evacuated from their home.

“I’m just sad about the neighbors on the corner,” Sullivan said. “I feel so bad for all those [who] are going to lose their homes and all of their personal things and things that aren’t replaceable.”

“At least we were able to grab some things, you know we don’t have everything but I have some stuff and I’m OK,” she added. “I just feel sad for everybody, just terrible.”

Sullivan said she is worried this situation could spread.

“OK they fix this [sinkhole], is it going to happen somewhere else?” she said.

Ted Leszkiewicz is a neighbor of Sullivan. Leszkiewicz moved into his home in 2004, a month before the first sinkhole situation began.

“We weren’t too impacted by that first one, it was down almost half a mile, maybe a little more than that,” Leszkiewicz said. “But this one here, this is [going to] be different. The [construction crew] is going to be a couple hundred feet from our house 24 hours, seven days a week.”

“This impact is going to be huge for the families in this neighborhood,” he said.

City engineers say this sinkhole is unrelated to the one from 2004, but say it is along the same sewage line.

Leszkiewicz says he's skeptical of that claim.

“All these mains are on the south side of the road, all these pumping stations are on the south side of the road,” he said. “So it seems that for everything on the south side of 15 Mile Road, they’re doing something with the sanitary and sewage. I got to think it’s somehow related, but I’m not an engineer so I don’t know.”

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