Vacant school, once flooded, turns to ice

By Dan Sommers III
Photo by Dan Sommers III

Tens of thousands of gallons of water that spewed from leaking pipes at the vacant Detroit City High School last week have turned to ice.

That’s because the city finally shut off water to the school, a week after urban explorers came across flooded hallways, classrooms and basement. Dan Sommers III said he reported the leak to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department early last week and was told the problem would be immediately resolved.

Just hours after the Motor City Muckraker published a story about the flooding, the department sent out crews to investigate before shutting off the water.

“I don’t know why this hasn’t been responded to before today, but I have a crew on the scene now,” DWSD spokesman Bill Johnson told us Friday afternoon.

After learning about the leak, Mayor Mike Dugan’s administration made sure the water was shut off. His office also trying to determine why the water was never shut off at the 13141 Rosa Parks building, which has been vacant for more than a year.  There are two possible explanations: The city forgot or neglected to turn off the water or Detroit Public Schools never notified the water department of the vacancy.

“We still need to get to the bottom of why the water service had not been shut off earlier,” Duggan’s spokesman, John Roach, told us.

Because the water wasn’t shut off sooner, the building’s foundation is at a better risk of cracking from the ice.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • chris

    Theres a busted pipe in the zoo on belle isle thats been running for years. I think a larger main broke and flooded out into the street so hopefully they caught it but probably not if whole schools can flood without any intervention.

  • bebow

    Good work, Steve. Exposure and embarrassment are required to force change. DWSD would not need calls, complaints, and media attention if it were taking care of business out in front of the problems. To Mr. Orr’s everlasting credit, I woke to find two full lanes plowed through the snow in my Third World neighborhood side street this morning. It felt like Christmas all over again. There are other small signs of improvement. Police are visible on patrol. An aggressive wave of demolition after the snow melts would be convincing. I’m still undecided about staying in Detroit, and my ambivalence has financial consequences for the city. Until I’m convinced, my wallet is closed.

    • DetroitRocks

      You would *think* that as a school building closes, something would be set in motion in order to properly shut down the building… you would think…