Detroit man waits 2 days for water to be turned back amid coronavirus concern

Theodore Dawson says he has been placing calls for two days and gotten no answer to turn his water back on.

On Monday the city announced a $25 payment plan for those without water to help combat the coronavirus.

"If you're out of water make the phone call and we will get a work order developed and we'll get them out to turn your water back on," said Gary Brown, director of Detroit water.

The problem is that Dawson is calling and nobody is answering.

"The world is in a crisis and people need this - we need this, we need to be able to clean," he said. "It is a safety issue. It is a city issue. It is a people issue."

But there was no answer and no voicemail. It turns out Wayne Metro Community Action Agency is working on getting additional phone lines.
The city has been inundated - receiving 1,900 calls from people since this restart program was announced - Detroit Water and Sewerage Director Gary Brown says most callers are already on payment plans and don't qualify.

"We have about 300 that have qualified so far and that will go up every day," Brown said.

The city is asking people to keep calling 313-386-9727 and to have patience. Brown says crews are out turning water on and adding additional contractors to get the work done.

"We're going to ask people to be patient - sometimes it's not as easy as just turning a switch," Brown said. "We've got to go out and dig up the stop box and replace it, and make a repair before we can fix it - but we're going to work as hard as we can."

Gary Brown says it's going to take time to vet all of those calls, and then to physically turn all the water back on. But it is time that some residents worry they just don't have.

"What are we going to do?" Dawson said. "That virus is not waiting on anybody - it's going to just keep going."

The city says keep calling and Henson did - but was on hold for more than an hour.

Eventually he had to hang up - but says he'll try again.