LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday declared a state of disaster for 19 counties and two cities -- Grand Rapids and Ionia -- to support ongoing local efforts to respond to the severe flooding that affected parts of Michigan.
The affected counties are Baraga, Barry, Benzie, Genesee, Gogebic, Gratiot, Houghton, Ionia, Kent, Keweenaw, Marquette, Mecosta, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ontonagon, Osceola, Ottawa and Saginaw.
The declaration will ensure that all possible resources, in accordance with the Michigan Emergency Management Plan, are provided to assist the local response to the flooding, which took place April 9 through May 3, according to a news release.
The declaration comes two-and-a-half weeks after the historic flood of the Grand River and several other of its tributaries.
24 Hour News 8 asked Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom if he felt if the declaration was timely.
"The governor rushed us, pushed us to give him estimates as quickly as possible. Some of the estimates had to wait for the water levels to fall," Sundstrom said. "I'm confident we still don't know the full extent of the damage, but we were able to get I think a strong estimate to the governor."
Grand Rapids assessed about $10.9 million in damage. Of that, $5 million is public property. The remaining is private.
Kent County has assessed $6.2 million in damage so far, but that doesn't include some damage it is continuing to add up.
The governor has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to join state and local officials later this week to assess the extent of damage to homes, businesses, public facilities and infrastructure. The Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) process is the initial step to assist state officials in determining whether a federal declaration should be requested.
"It's the next step in a multi-step process of finally reaching FEMA and see if they would consider this a disaster as well," Sundstrom said.
During the assessment, the joint PDA teams -- comprised of local, state and federal officials -- will assess the extent of damage that was incurred by homeowners, renters and businesses. The teams will also assess the damage to public infrastructure, as well as the overall impacts to the communities.
The teams will visit the most severely impacted areas based on information gathered during local damage assessments. While the teams may not visit every affected home and business, all of the local damage assessment information will be included in the overall results. Affected residents and business owners are encouraged to report any damages to their local emergency management agency.
To assist with the damage assessment process, affected residents and business owners should have information readily available about the extent of their damage, including the location of flooding in living areas and the depth of floodwaters, as well as if the damage is covered by insurance. In the event individuals are not available when teams are in their area, residents are encouraged to provide information about their damage to a neighbor or leave information at the front door.
The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has been actively engaged in monitoring the flooding since April 19. The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) continues to work with local and federal officials to gather damage and cost information necessary to determine whether the area may be eligible for federal funds of any kind.
Snyder's disaster declaration authorizes the MSP/EMHSD to coordinate and maximize all state efforts to address public health and safety concerns in the affected jurisdictions, as well as to coordinate with federal agencies to provide any available assistance to help with recovery efforts.
A major disaster must be declared before someone can apply for low-interest government loans. Here are the steps, according to FEMA --
- Local government responds, supplemented by neighboring communities and volunteer agencies. If overwhelmed, turn to the state for assistance;
- The state responds with state resources, such as the National Guard and state agencies;
- Damage assessment by local, state, federal, and volunteer organizations determines losses and recovery needs;
- A major disaster declaration is requested by the governor, based on the damage assessment, and an agreement to commit state funds and resources to the long-term recovery;
- FEMA evaluates the request and recommends action to the White House based on the disaster, the local community and the state's ability to recover;
- The president approves the request or FEMA informs the governor it has been denied. This decision process could take a few hours or several weeks depending on the nature of the disaster.
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