GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County Board of Commissioners approved a local emergency declaration Tuesday, freeing up additional funding for post-storm cleanup.
The declaration takes effect Tuesday and remains valid for seven days. The decision was made after “careful consideration of the ongoing damage assessment,” according to a release from Kent County Administrator Al Vanderberg.
“When the county declares a local state of emergency, it allows any of the municipalities, like Alpine Township, like Plainfield Township — it groups them together into that local declaration of emergency,” Kent County Emergency Management Coordinator Matt Groesser said. “And so potentially any funding again that we are able to drum up from this process would be available for those municipalities as well.”
Because of the state of emergency declaration, the county, cities and townships impacted could become eligible for both state and federal funding.
Groesser said the county also sent a second letter of request to the governor’s office Tuesday, asking Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to add Kent County to the state declaration she previously signed.
“It allows us to handle things a little bit differently. But it also might allow eligibility for either state or federal funding to come down and reimburse efforts that you’re witnessing in the neighborhoods and in town right now with the cleanup from the storm,” he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Grand Rapids city crews had cleared 75% of the storm damage following Thursday’s straight-line winds.
“Considering what’s going on, we’re going to be more forgiving than we normally would,” Grand Rapids Public Works Manager Robert Swain said. “If there’s little stuff on the road, we’ll get that as well. We do continue with our yard waste pickup through the week, but please make sure that it is bagged and cut up.”
The northeast areas impacted by the EF1 tornado that touched down are still being assessed and cleared by other crews.
Homeowners and businesses are asked to self-report any damage through the county’s portal. Data collected from that site not only tells crews what areas still need to be addressed, but also helps emergency management present evidence and accounts that could push their emergency declaration past certain thresholds.
“There have been over 170 buildings that we have noted there has been at least minor damage to … and there have been five buildings that have been completely destroyed based on what FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) would consider destroyed,” Groesser said.