Christmas sinkhole the second to strike Fraser family

Fraser — A Fraser family displaced on Christmas Eve said it’s not the first time the couple has been rocked by a sinkhole.

Sue and Jerry Albu said the familiar sinking feeling also struck in 2004, “right outside our kitchen.” The couple, who moved into the house on 15 Mile in 1999, had a “very unsettling eight months then.”

They didn’t leave the home in 2004. That would require a buyer and a price that works, said Jerry Albu. 

The latest sinkhole on Christmas Eve emerged due to a  leaky sewer line between Utica and Hayes roads, authorities said. The row of homes most affected and evacuated were at the corner of 15 Mile Road and Eberlein Drive. Police closed 15 Mile between Utica and Hayes as a precaution and the city declares a state of emergency in the area.

Sue Albu was awakened about 6 a.m. Christmas Eve by the sound of cracks. “Very loud noises, like our house was falling down,” she said.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said, so they called 911. Police gave them about 20 minutes to gather valuables, which included Christmas presents for their grandchildren and insurance papers.


A sink hole develops beneath this house on the southeast corner of 15 Mile Rd. and Eberlein Dr. Authorities say the privacy hedges used to be on the same level but are now dipping due to the sink hole under this house.

On Christmas Day, further complications emerged when the city warned on its website that Macomb County Public Works found a “possibility of sewage backups” in basements from the break on Garfield to 18 Mile and told homeowners to “remove items from the basement floor and monitor the situation.”

The owner of the home at the corner of 15 Mile Road and Eberlein Drive called police when he felt his foundation move and his walls crack.

Every few minutes, bystanders could hear the home’s foundation as well as the roadway cracking. And the changes including a row of pine trees, which a day ago lined perfectly together, appeared uneven.

“They noticed in the house cracking, loud banging from the walls,” said Lt. Mike Pettyes of the Fraser Police Department. “We evacuated the house, and it’s just been getting progressively worse.”

Pettyes said road crews know that there’s a leaking problem with the main sewer line that snakes under the homes and caused the foundation to crumble. At least two other homes on Eberlein were also evacuated as a precaution.

The distressful holiday weekend led a relative to create a GoFundMe page to raise $3,500 to help restore the Albus’ home.

“My family in Fraser is homeless on Christmas Eve after a massive sinkhole opened up under their home,” the solicitation read. “They only had time to grab a few items from their home before they weren’t allowed back in. This fund is to help them with any expenses they may encounter as result of this disaster. They are told they will not be able to return to the home to retrieve personal belongings. Please help us raise money for them.”

By Sunday evening, the effort drew $4,090 from 73 donations. 

“May you get back on your feet asap. Peace and love,” said one donor. 

But though the gesture was appreciated, the Albus said they won’t accept the money. “We’ve been fortunate to work our entire lives,” Jerry Albu said. “GoFundMe is not me.”

If donors can’t be given their money back, they will donate the funds to charity, he said.

Meanwhile, Michelle Ward, 43, who lives a few housing developments away, heard about the sinking homes and street sinking on Facebook and came out to survey the damage Saturday.

“It’s Christmas Eve and you just feel bad for the families having to leave,” said Ward, 43. “Having to evacuate on Christmas and losing their house.

Pettyes said he wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of the residents, whom he wouldn’t name, lost his house.

“It’s a two-person family and he’s obviously upset about it,” he said.

Unlike 2004, Sue Albu doesn’t see returning to the home.

“The house was still cracking and you felt the walls shifting while you were still in the house,” she said. “I doubt we will be going back home. Our house has sunk.”

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