Disaster areas declared

MARQUETTE – Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster Tuesday for 19 counties and two cities to aid in responding to recent spring flooding, which has been severe in some areas.

The disaster declaration – for flooding occurring from April 9 through May 3 – includes Marquette, Houghton, Baraga, Gogebic, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties in the Upper Peninsula, 13 downstate counties and the cities of Grand Rapids and Ionia.

“Our first responders and volunteer organizations must be commended for their tireless efforts to protect the public’s safety during this flooding. This declaration makes available all the state resources that are needed to continue supporting local officials in their ongoing work to keep the public safe as the recovery efforts begin,” Snyder said in a news release. “We will be exploring all possible avenues for assistance to help affected residents and local governments recover from the severe flooding.”

Flooding occurred in several parts of the U.P. over the past couple of weeks including the Michigamme, Sturgeon, Paint, Chocolay, Menominee and Ontonagon rivers systems.

Later this week, state and local officials will be assessing the extent of flood damage. Snyder has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to join the effort. A preliminary damage assessment is the first step in aiding state officials in determining whether a federal disaster declaration should be sought.

State officials said 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.

If individuals are not available when teams are in their area, state officials encouraged residents to provide information about their damage to a neighbor or leave information at the front door.

The State Emergency Operations Center has been actively engaged in monitoring the flooding since April 19. The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division 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 division 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.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.