Detroit water dept. works to restore service to those in need during outbreak

Vaughn Arrington spent Friday delivering door hangars at homes where the water has been shut off, trying to let those in need know the city wants to turn their water back on - in response to the coronavirus.

"We're notifying the residents that they do have a grand opportunity right now to get the water (back) on," Arrington said. "We don't want anyone to be stricken with this virus. We want to take every possible precaution to avoid it."

Arrington and his team at Human Fliers will visit about 3,000 homes over the next few days. Detroit Water and Sewerage Director Gary Brown says as of Thursday, close to 75 homes had their water back on.

The department had issued work orders for close to 500 homes and is in the process of turning on their water for a $25 monthly fee during the COVID-19 crisis. But, it's a process.

"If this were as simple as going out and turning a key, we could do each one in about 20 minutes," Brown said. "But we have to go into the home, there are plumbing leaks that once we turn the water on, that we're going to repair. Not something that DWSD normally would do."

Brown says the city has contracted with three Detroit-based plumbing companies to help get repairs done at these homes.

They are also getting more phone lines and more staffing to take the calls at Wayne Metro Community Action Agency. Some people were unable to get through or sat on hold for hours.

"We'll be able to go through this list pretty quick next week," Brown said.

Brown says this $25 program is only for people who are without water or who have received shut off notices. They must call 313-386-9727 to make an appointment.

For others who have water but are having trouble paying - the water department has additional financial assistance available.

RELATED: Track the spread of COVID-19 with our interactive map

RELATED: Full list of coronavirus cancellations and closures in Michigan 

RELATED: List of Michigan coronavirus exposure locations and dates

Friday, the Oakland County Health Division released a list of potential exposure sites relating to its three current patients. You can see that list here

"Right now it's all hands on deck to turn the water on in as many homes as possible so everybody can wash their hands," Brown said.

The state of Michigan has set uo a state hotline which will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136.