Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday requested a major disaster declaration from President Trump in response to the flooding in mid-Michigan.
The failure of the Edenville and Sanford dams last month caused catastrophic flooding in Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland and Saginaw counties. Whitmer previously declared a State of Emergency for the area, as well as requested that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy launch an investigation into the cause of the failures.
The dams’ failure followed two days of heavy rainfall and caused record flood levels along the Tittabawassee River, according to the governor’s office.
“Last month’s flooding and dam failures upended the lives of thousands of Michigan families and business owners at a time when we were just beginning to reopen our economy following weeks of working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This natural disaster, coupled with a global health pandemic, has created enormous stress and emotional trauma for these residents, and they need the federal government’s help to begin rebuilding their lives.”
The flooding — which was classed as a 500-year disaster, meaning it has a chance of happening once every 500 years — caused more than $190 million in residential losses and more than $42 million in damage to public buildings and infrastructure, Whitmer’s office said.
“I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective recovery is beyond the capabilities of the State of Michigan and the affected local governments, and that supplemental federal relief assistance is necessary,” Whitmer wrote in her letter to Trump.
Whitmer added that the flooding has affected a wide variety of people.
“This 500-year disaster has impacted everyone from homeowners and renters to businesses and farmers throughout mid-Michigan, and I urge the federal government to provide the resources necessary to ensure they don’t suffer financial hardships for years as they attempt to repair and restore their damaged homes and businesses,” Whitmer said in a statement. “We will get through this together and will emerge stronger on the other side.”
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