Bitter tears follow gusts of wind
Anger flares after tree falls and kills a man in Detroit
BY STEVE NEAVLING
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Jeannette Brown angrily counted the number of dead trees lining her block in Detroit.
"There's one there, one there, one there, one there, one there," she said, pointing to the rotting trees around her house on Virginia Park, just east of the Lodge Freeway. "No one cares about the poor, black folk. We might as well rot like those trees."
Hours earlier Friday, strong winds snapped a dead tree, which struck and killed her fiancé, 53-year-old Chester Carter, also of Detroit.
Strong winds Friday accounted for power outages at more than 30,000 homes in metro Detroit, mainly because of downed power lines. Brown said she has implored the city for years to cut down the tree.
"Chester should be walking, talking and laughing, not sitting in a morgue," she said. "There's no excuse for this. I lost the love of my life. And for what?"
A spokesman for Mayor Dave Bing said the city had not received a complaint about the tree. "We are saddened for the family of the victim in this tragic accident," spokesman Dan Lijana said.
Earlier in the day, firefighters were on high alert as winds reached 47 m.p.h., raising fears about a repeat of the devastating wind-swept fires that raced through several neighborhoods Sept. 7 and destroyed more than 70 houses and garages in Detroit.
The Sept. 7 fires called into question the response by an understaffed fire department and 911 operators, who couldn't keep pace with the calls for help. Many residents became critical of the city and of DTE Energy over the maintenance of power lines.
On Tuesday, the City Council is holding a hearing on the blazes to investigate the cause and emergency response. The Michigan Public Service Commission is holding a hearing Tuesday, at Cadillac Place, 3044 W. Grand Blvd., as part of its investigation into complaints about DTE. Both meetings are at 10 a.m.
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The right to own private property means any rotten trees are to be cut down by the city.