Senator Chang

Friends, 

I hope you are doing well. Thanks to everyone who came to my in-person ice cream social on Thursday with Representative Darrin Camilleri. We always appreciate engaging in dialogue about important issues going on in our community. Please read on for updates! 
 
UPDATE ON THE FORT AND DEARBORN ST. UNDERGROUND INCIDENT  
Two weekends ago, an incident occurred at Fort and Dearborn Streets damaging DTE gas lines, electric poles, and city water lines. An area business owner observed structural changes to their building as the ground shifted underneath. DTE was notified and arrived onsite as the situation unfolded. The ground lifted 8 feet in a half hour. We have been told there was no detected chemical release. The cause of this incident is still unknown, and the investigation is ongoing.   
Agencies onsite were DTE, the City of Detroit, EGLE, EPA, and the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). The site of the gas line damage was located and repaired, and I have been told air monitoring data hasn’t shown levels for concern. However, we will continue to push for the air monitoring data so that we know if it is safe to breathe. City, state, and federal agencies and DTE are continuing working at the site. Gas and water lines needed to be repaired and services were disrupted for some homes and businesses.  

The affected building has been demolished and an investigation will continue underground to determine the cause of the ground shift. Inspectors from the Building Safety, Engineering and Environment Department (BSEED) are continuing to assess the adjacent building for structural integrity to determine whether the building can be salvaged or will require partial or full demolition. A portion of the building was also affected by the elevated ground level. 
A small number of homes remain without gas, and DTE is providing hotel vouchers and meals to those households. Crews are working to create alternate service lines. DTE is installing a temporary bypass that will restore natural gas service to the six industrial clients affected by this temporary safety disconnection.  
Installation of the bypass will interrupt GLWA’s normal wastewater solids processing at its Water Resource Recovery Facility and Biosolids Drying Facility on Jefferson. As a result of this interruption and the need to store solids inventory onsite, there may be a short-term increase in odor in the area.  

Water quality requirements will continue to be met and not create any public health concerns. There will also be increased truck traffic in the area during the service interruption. DTE expects that the bypass construction will be completed, and service is expected to be restored by the end of the week. If you are without gas, please contact DTE at 800-947-5000. 
If you smell or suspect a gas leak, leave the area at once, call 911, and then call DTE or your gas provider to report the situation. You can also call the State’s Pollution Emergency Alerting System at 1-800-292-4706. 

Water lines. Water lines have been repaired. If your water is still discolored, run all faucets for about 30 minutes. If water does not clear up, contact the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department at (313) 267-8000. Water and air sampling is being conducted to detect any volatile organic compounds, total organics, carbon monoxide, and more. Results will be made public when the information is available. 

Flooding. If your basement flooded from this incident, contact DWSD to file a claim at (313) 267-8000. 

Downed wires. Remain 20 feet away from downed wires. Always assume the line is live and dangerous, and please report downed wires to outage.dteenergy.com, on the DTE Mobile app, or by calling 800-477-4747. 
I continue to be in communication with community leaders, other elected officials, DTE, and various agencies about this situation and my priority is to ensure the health and safety of residents in the area. We will continue to push for a comprehensive emergency alert system for which this, and other incidents, have shown the tremendous need. 
 
FEMA DEADLINE EXTENSION  
It is not too late to apply for flooding assistance from FEMA or the SBA, as the deadline has been extended to October 13, 2021. You can also find a compilation of available federal, state and local flooding relief on my website.  
To apply for FEMA relief by the October 13th deadline, please visit DisasterAssistance.gov
Additionally, the following FEMA disaster recovery centers in or near our district are open from 7 AM to 7 PM daily to assist with FEMA applications: 
  • Kemeny Recreation Center, 2260 S. Fort St., Detroit, MI 48217 
  • Golightly Career and Technical Center, 900 Dickerson Avenue, Detroit, MI 48215 
 
WAYNE COUNTY FLOOD ASSISTANCE GRANTS 
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently announced the allocation of $10M in grants for flooding assistance. Wayne County is offering financial assistance for residents outside of Detroit impacted by the June 2021 flooding. Funding will support residents in covering damages and costs that have not been covered by FEMA or private property insurance. This grant money is intended to cover the costs of tangible goods and belongings such as carpets, couches, drywall, and food. Additionally, this grant may be used to cover contracted labor if the applicant can provide itemized quotes or receipts from their contractor. 
  • The application opened on Sept. 7, 2021 and will be closed on Sept. 21, 2021. 
  • Eligibility requirements include: 
  • The property for which you are applying for must be located in Wayne County (*not including the City of Detroit). 
  • The property must be a residential property. 
  • The damage applicants document and submit to this grant must be due to the June 25-26 weather events. 
  • Applicants must have applied for FEMA assistance to qualify for the Flood Relief Grant funding. 
Applicants will be required to submit the following: 
  • Proof of residence 
  • FEMA application number 
  • Pictures of damaged belongings 
  • Insurance claim documents (if applicable) 
  • Itemized quote and/or receipt for contractor work (if applicable) 
This application is for Wayne County residents who need assistance completing repairs or replacing items damaged during the June 25-26 weather events. Funds will be used to cover items which have not, or will not be paid for, by FEMA or other property insurance. Application to the FEMA assistance program is a prerequisite to qualify for this program, and ONLY applicants with registered applications with FEMA will be considered. 
To apply for this program, please visit the WayneCounty.com website
 
Wayne County Flood Assistance Grant
For flooding related assistance within the City of Detroit, please visit DetroitMI.gov for flood assistance resources.
 
REDISTRICTING UPDATE 
The Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission has developed a draft State Senate district map. I encourage you to review it and share your comments directly with the commission. Here is a link to the map

What are your thoughts on how your city or neighborhood is included? What do you think about Southwest Detroit being split into two districts? Should the Grosse Pointes be together with the East Side of Detroit or go up along the shore as currently drawn? What do people think of the Downriver districts? Should Detroit be drawn into northern suburbs or other parts of Wayne County? 

Submit public comment so the commissioners hear from you directly! Visit michigan-mapping.org to submit your comments. You can also submit written comments, a districting plan, and/or a communities of interest map.    
COMMUNITY CRISIS RESPONSE FUND BILLS 
In recent years, our state and nation have grown to understand that we must change the way we respond to behavioral health crises. We have seen models across the state and country that more effectively address the root of the problem, and our bills build upon this critical work. 

Last week, my colleague Senator Outman and I introduced Senate Bills 637 and 638. These bills create a grant fund to help local jurisdictions implement or expand community crisis response and behavioral health diversion programs that will allow local agencies to respond more effectively to behavioral health crisis situations. They are based both on recommendations from the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration and the work of the National Association of Social Workers, Americans for Prosperity, and other experts. These bills have support from a wide range of behavioral health practitioners, law enforcement, and advocates. Current budget drafts allocate $10 million into the fund as a three-year pilot program. 

Our jails can be an important tool for preserving public safety — but jail is rarely the right place for people who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Arresting people in crisis and trying to address their needs in jail is expensive, can be dangerous, and doesn’t address the root causes of behavior. And yet, at least one quarter of people in Michigan’s jails have a serious mental illness. In addition, we have unfortunately seen tragic incidents in which law enforcement response to behavioral health crises has unnecessarily led to serious injury or death. 

Throughout our state and country, cities and counties are doing their best with the resources they have to keep people out of jail and get them into treatment. But there are many places across the state that don’t have the resources for diversion programs, or where existing programs could be improved or expanded. Our rural counties have the highest rates of people with mental illness in their jails, and often have the fewest alternative options available.  

Our bills would create a behavioral health diversion grant program that give localities flexibility to invest in cost-effective mental health solutions that strengthen their local communities. The Jail Diversion Fund is a smart use of taxpayer money and a crucial resource for law enforcement and mental health practitioners. 

Thank you for reading this update! Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or ideas. 
 
 
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Stephanie Chang
State Senator
District 1