Obama declares major disaster for Michigan counties

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

President Barack Obama declared that a major disaster area exists in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties from the record rainfall in August that caused flooding throughout metropolitan Detroit.

The decision, which was announced Thursday, makes federal funding available to affected people in all three counties.

According to a press release by the White House, “assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”

The federal funding will also be available to “state, tribal and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the severe storms and flooding.”

Federal Emergency Management Agency Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph Diemont will be in charge of federal recovery operations in Michigan.

Storms Aug. 11 dumped from four to six inches of rain on the metro Detroit area, causing flooding on local and county roads and major highways as well as in basements of commercial and residential properties.

Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of disaster for the area Aug. 13 and just over a month later announced that he had requested a presidential declaration of disaster for the counties following two weeks of in-depth assessment to discover the total amount of damage to the area.

Following the announcement by Obama, Snyder said Michigan residents have been “tested and tried as they recover their lives” since the storms hit.

“We are a resilient state that bands together to help each other when it’s needed the most,” Snyder said. “This presidential declaration will provide assistance as people, businesses and governments recover. I appreciate the federal government’s recognition of the severity of this incident.”

People affected by the flooding must register for assistance online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)