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Federal flood disaster support sought for five counties

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(The Center Square) – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has asked President Joe Biden for a major disaster declaration and activation of the public assistance program for five counties.

The damage from spring flooding is estimated at $56 million.

The letter said flooding across the Upper Peninsula, including in Baraga, Gogebic, Iron, Marquette and Ontonagon counties, “overwhelmed storm water and sewer systems, burst earthen dams, caused culverts and embankments to fail, washed out roads, caused sinkholes, and deposited debris and silt on roadways.”

Snowmelt due to warming temperatures, as well as record precipitation, caused widespread and repeated flooding across the west-central Upper Peninsula from April 10 to May 14.

“We are using every tool in our toolbox to support Yoopers as they recover and rebuild from the devastating flooding this spring,” Whitmer said in a statement. “A presidential declaration would deliver critical resources to the U.P., and we need all hands on deck to support impacted communities. Tough times call for tough people, and Michiganders will get through this together.”

State, federal, and local officials conducted a joint preliminary damage assessment on May 22.

Local jurisdictions estimate over $56 million in immediate response costs and damages to infrastructure and public facilities. Whitmer’s letter requests federal aid from the public assistance program, which helps local governments quickly recover from disaster situations and provides funds to prevent future challenges.

The request is bipartisan. State Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township, said local agencies cataloged damages for the request to rebuild.

“Our local road commissions and emergency coordinators have done an outstanding job since the beginning of this spring’s flooding to catalogue and coordinate the danger and damage,” McBroom said. “Thank you to the Michigan State Police as well for their excellent assistance throughout this time, making it possible for the governor to make this request for federal resources to rebuild.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will review Whitmer’s request and make a recommendation to the president.

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