Push to demolish: City of Dearborn Heights looks to buy, tear down homes in flood zone

Posted at 11:13 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-17 19:50:52-04

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The city of Dearborn Heights is looking to buy homes to demolish in a flood zone.

For the owners of a brick home that sits on Currier Street, tearing the house down is the only solution

Mike Wetzel, who lives next door, sat in a chair outside watching a yellow excavator go through the roof of his neighbor's house as he thought about doing the same to his home.

He received a letter in the mail from the city.

“It’s a voluntary letter that says we will buy your house," Wetzel said.

Houses adjacent to the Ecorse Creek can now be sold to the city of Dearborn Heights through previous funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We buy their homes to get them out of the situation they are in," Mayor Bill Bazzi said.

Homeowners in the area find themselves in a terrifying flooding situation when it rains and the creek behind their homes fills up.

“We’ve had so many floods," Wetzel said.

He shared a picture with 7 Action News of rising flood waters outside his home during last year’s summer flooding events.

“It came up through the door and tore my cement basin out," he said.

Bazzi says the city along with Wayne County and the Michigan State Police are working to secure a FEMA grant for more than $2,500,000 to buy and demolish about 16 more homes on Currier and Hanover streets.

“They will come and appraise the house and once they appraise the house, we will submit the amount to FEMA," Bazzi explained.

Once approved by FEMA, the city will take care of 25% of the cost through its Water and Sewer fund.

Wetzel says he's considering selling his home only if the price is right.

“I’m not taking a hundred grand," he said.

Bazzi says the buying price varies.

“Some homes for $180,000, $190,000. Roughly $130,000,” he said.

He says giving homeowners this opportunity is a sign of relief for those who want to move out of these flood zone areas.

“I’ve visited some homes that were flooded. It hurts to see what the residents are going through," he said.

Once the city demolishes the homes, Bazzi says it becomes FEMA's property.

They plan on using the additional space as a basin and cleaning out the creek.

"Possibly widening it and also dredge it so the water flows without water obstacles," the mayor explained.

Deciding to demolish his own home may be the way out of this obstacle for Wetzel.

"I’m so tired of it," he said.

For more information on how to apply and voluntary sell your home, visit the city’s website.