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City fixes flooding in desolate Detroit neighborhood

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Farnsworth flood is gone.

Water department crews Wednesday afternoon unclogged a sewer that had caused repeated major flooding on the street over the past two years as city officials began investigating why the problem lingered for so long.

A Detroit Water and Sewerage Department crew was dispatched to the east-side street near Mt. Elliott and East Grand Boulevard after a Detroit News story Tuesday highlighted resident Jerry Jackson's frustration about the recurring flooding, and the city's lack of response to years of complaints.

"I was happy to see them finally come out and start working on this," Jackson said Wednesday. "It's what I've wanted all along."

Alexis Wiley, Mayor Mike Duggan's chief of staff, said leaves had accumulated in the sewer's catch basins, clogging drains and causing the flooding.

"The crew drained the water, cleared all the catch basins in the area, and are running a line below ground to make sure any other obstructions are moved," Wiley said.

Wiley said she didn't know why previous attempts to fix the problem were unsuccessful, and said she wants to know why the issue was not addressed earlier. Jackson said city crews had been out a few times before, but didn't fix the problem.

"Waiting a long time to get a response for something like that is unacceptable," she said. "We're looking into what took so long, and where the challenges are. Nobody should have to wait that long after making a complaint."

Jackson, 68, said he felt the city had ignored his street because there were only two houses left standing. Street flooding hasn't been the only issue. Jake Lueck, owner of Eastern Michigan Distributors on Mount Elliott and Farnsworth, told The News on Tuesday he's called the city about streetlights that don't work, but said nothing has been done.

Detroit Water and Sewerage department crews cleaning up Farnsworth Street near Mount Elliott in Detroit on Wednesday.

Wiley said Duggan's administration is trying to improve city services for all residents, no matter where they live, using $1.7 billion earmarked from the bankruptcy settlement.

"They're taxpayers, and they deserve to get a quick, timely response to complaints," she said. "In this case, the residents didn't get that, and we want to know why."

ghunter@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2134