Flood relief

MARQUETTE – Federal disaster aid headed to the Upper Peninsula for spring flooding in several counties will not include relief for residents.

Marquette County Emergency Management Program Coordinator Teresa Schwalbach told the county board recently the required threshold of damage for residential funding was at least 20 homes that had major or very serious damage.

“We only had a couple that were really bad,” Schwalbach said. “So we’re trying to find other means that we can hopefully assist them.”

Seventeen homes reported damage in the U.P., with flooded basements and other water-related issues.

Schwalbach said the U.P. flood damage also did not meet the threshold for residents to receive low-interest small business administration loans.

However, the U.P. did qualify for assistance to compensate for damage to roads and other public infrastructure.

A disaster declaration was issued last month by President Barack Obama. Spring flooding occurred from April 16 through May 14 and affected 16 Michigan counties, including Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw, Marquette and Ontonagon counties in the U.P.

An applicant briefing for county, township and municipal entities will be held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the Baraga High School in Baraga from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday. At the meeting, area governments seeking money for flood damage will complete a single-page application.

Then, federal and state officials will spend the next month in the area making final damage assessments, hoping for a 90-day turnaround to provide the funding.

Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency May 7 for 19 counties and two downstate cities, which brought state resources to the affected areas. State and federal officials who assessed the flooding effects estimated damage to public infrastructure at about $18.5 million statewide.

Spring flooding occurred in the Michigamme, Sturgeon, Paint, Chocolay, Menominee and Ontonagon rivers systems.

“We pretty much had a lot of roads that were affected in Marquette County,” Schwalbach said.

She said the preliminary damage estimate for Marquette County was nearly $600,000.

A match for the funding will be required, with the federal government covering 75 percent of the costs, with state and local governments each paying up to 12.5 percent.

Some of the entities expected to apply for the funding include the Marquette County Road Commission and the cities of Ishpeming and Negaunee.

Another meeting will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Marquette County Emergency Management Center, EOC conference room, on U.S. 41 West in Negaunee Township.

FEMA is in the process of updating the county’s Flood Insurance Rate Map or Flood Insurance Study under the agency’s Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning Program.

“FEMA’s going to redo the flood maps and see where the (flood) areas are,” Schwalbach said. “So they are coming up and meeting with us and the commissioners, and the townships and cities are all invited to that as well.”

In a letter to the county board chairman, FEMA Michigan Division Director Christine Stack said “in addition to doing studies to improve flood hazard data used for administration of the National Flood Insurance Program, the Risk MAP Program enables FEMA to promote community resilience to flooding and other natural hazards by providing tools, resources and discussions that foster local action to mitigate risk.”

Stack said the objective of the meeting is to discuss flood-related issues, identify potential strategies or actions to reduce flood risk, provide local governmental units with information on potential resources or programs designed to support communities in mitigating flood risk.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is jpepin@miningjournal.net.