August 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Snyder on flooding: 'If we get more rain, we could get more problems'

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Waterford Township — Gov. Rick Snyder interrupted an Upper Peninsula trip Tuesday to survey the flood devastation from a record rainfall in Metro Detroit, warning “if we get more rain, we could get more problems.”

“This is a record-setting rain in a short amount of time,” Snyder said Tuesday afternoon. “And it looks like we are going to get more rain.”

Earlier Tuesday, Snyder flew in from Houghton, taxiing on a state plane to a state hangar where he boarded a Michigan State Police helicopter at Capital City Airport in Lansing.

“The issue is we just need to work through it,” he said. “A number of roads have been cleared of water at this point, but they still need to get in and do an inspection” to make sure structures haven’t been compromised by the rush of water from heavy Monday rains.

Snyder said an emergency operations center was up and running, three squads of State Police had been deployed to help where needed and that dive teams were available.

Michigan Department of Transportation crews were surveying the damage, checking roads and determining what repair work will be necessary. Snyder said MDOT crews also were making sure pumps were in operation to clear standing water off freeways.

He met the press later Tuesday at Pentastar Aviation in Waterford Township to describe what he learned from his aerial tour of the flood area.

“Michigan State Police has mobilized significant resources,” Snyder said. “Michigan Department of Transportation has crews out there working hard. They are already clearing up mud and a number of freeways have already been cleared.

“They are doing the inspections to make sure everything is safe, and we want to make sure that takes place."

Snyder warned drivers against disregarding barricades or standing water: “Even when you see an area clear, we are asking people not to go beyond the barriers because we need to get the engineers in there to make an assessment of both the roadbed and the surrounding areas,” Snyder said.

Snyder said officials will follow procedure and plan to look into whether federal aid is available for devastated roadways included Interstates 75 and 696.

“Let’s make sure we do the assessments and then we’ll do the follow up to say what aid and assistance is available,” Snyder said.

Snyder flew minutes after ominous, dark clouds arrived over the airfield.

Meanwhile, speaking early Tuesday afternoon at an event in Birmingham, U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said authorities’ first priority in the wake of the floods is to be sure people are safe.

He said property owners who suffered water damage could be eligible for financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, depending on their insurance coverage.

“Certainly we’re going to take a look at whether we can apply for federal assistance. I’ve been in contact with FEMA and the governor’s office and these are the kinds of decisions that will be made in the coming days if necessary,” Peters said.
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Gov. Rick Snyder discusses Metro Detroit's flooding situation Tuesday. / Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News
Gov. Rick Snyder toured flooded areas in Metro Detroit by air on Tuesday. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
Michigan State Police check vehicles on I-696. (David Coates / Detroit News)