State of emergency brings help from all over to GR

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The wood chipper was a welcome sight in Grand Rapids’ Ottawa Hills neighborhood Tuesday afternoon, but the name on the door of the truck may have confused some residents.

Workers from the city of Kalamazoo are among several out-of-town crews helping clean up Grand Rapids’ ice storm debris-covered streets.

“It was really a pleasure to meet these gentlemen this morning,” Ottawa Hills resident Fred Davison said. “And they said they’d come all the way from Kalamazoo to help. Thank you very much.”

Dave Cooper and Dale Briggs, both Kalamazoo Forestry Department employees, said they got a lot of the same from Grand Rapids residents.

“A lot of the corners, you stop and they’re waving when you’re trying to find out where to go on the maps ’cause we’re not from this area,” Cooper said. “Very grateful. A lot of the people are.”

Just like the power outages brought in electrical crews from out of the area, the state of emergency declaration from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer over the weekend triggered a sort of mutual aid pact between cities all over the state.

“Those are done by a compact that those outside agencies sign up with on the statewide level,” Grand Rapids Fire Chief John Lehman explained.

City leaders say they’re making a lot of progress in cleaning up the mess from last week’s ice storms.
The state of emergency brought in trucks, chippers and manpower from Kalamazoo as well as cities as far away as Lansing and even Ann Arbor. Various state agencies are also now in town.

A state of emergency sounds ominous, but by the time it was declared, most citizens were safe in their homes waiting for the power to come back on. The problem was that the streets were still littered with downed tree limbs, making it difficult to complete everyday tasks like plowing snow.

“We needed to get back to our ability to normally operate,” Chief Lehman said.

He said thanks to the response from city workers and outside agencies, the city is close to a return to those normal operations.

The state of emergency expires Tuesday. City officials say crews have made enough progress that they won’t be asking for an extension.  

Separate from the state of emergency, if you’re on the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits, and had food spoil because of the power outage, you may be eligible for reimbursement from the state. You should contact your caseworker within 10 days of the outage to request replacement food benefits.

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