March 8, 2023
Representative Helena Scott,
I’m writing this morning to insist that you use your powers as the Chair of the Energy, Communications and Technology Committee to call a public hearing and demand that DTE executives answer to their customers. I live in District 10 and over the last 9 years we have experienced not only poor service, but also personal loss of property. There is also the impact of trauma on our family, friends, and community. More than any inconvenience or nuisance, repetitive long-term outages have deeply impacted our lives.
Where we live, we almost always retain power through the worst of the storm but lose power the next day. My assumption is that they turn us off to turn other areas on, but I’m not a line worker. It does create a loss of trust and a great sense of disparity. All efforts should be made to retain power for those who have it. My neighborhood is 90% Black and many of my neighbors struggle to make ends meet or are on fixed incomes. If this “after the fact” outage is the result of a decision being made, I wonder if this also happens in more white and affluent areas of DTE’s service?
We’ve lost lighting, ceiling fans, small appliances and (new) power strips in surges during outages or more specifically when the power comes back on. I’ve now learned to turn everything off at the box during an outage. Refrigerator and freezer food loss is also substantial when you have 3 kids. After losing refrigerators full of food, we decided to save up for a generator. We’re blessed to be able to do so as many of our neighbors cannot. Last week, once again I was running cords over fences in the middle of an ice storm to try to get some power to our neighbor’s homes.
One of our elder neighbors lost heat last week. She was too concerned to leave her house over fear that a fire would start while away. I not only understand but share her fear. A few years ago, after a long-term outage, the power came back on and caused simultaneous house fires in the neighborhood. It was chaos with neighbors running hoses, bringing ladders, and holding down a house fire on the block until the overwhelmed Detroit Fire Department arrived on the scene. The house was so damaged that the family haven’t returned to the street.
I think what angers me more than anything else is the indirect impact of these outages on my kids, my elder neighbor, and the rest of my community. My kids don’t sleep well, sometimes even when there is a minimal storm, for fear of outages and fire. Our children and our elders have enough challenges with the state of our neighborhood, city, and world. That this level of trauma and abuse comes from a service that we pay for seems inherently unjust.
Again, I’m writing to insist you do everything in your power to call a public hearing and demand that DTE executives answer to community.
Thank you for your time and for taking action.
Eden Bloom, Detroit Eastside Resident