Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday declared a state of disaster for Grand Traverse County after severe thunderstorms and high winds caused widespread damage there earlier this month.
The county had been under a local state of emergency, which activates local emergency response and recovery plans, since Aug. 3. Snyder’s declaration makes state resources available to help with local efforts and authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division to coordinate the state work, according to a statement his office released.
“Our state and local emergency response and volunteer services have been working to protect the health and safety of Michiganders and mitigate damage,” Snyder said in the statement. .”
Damage was widespread across northern Michigan after storms the weekend of Aug. 2 that spawned a tornado in Huron County, snapped ancient trees and cut power to thousands.
The northwestern Lower Peninsula was hit extremely hard, especially Leelanau County, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan, and Traverse City, all magnets for summer tourism.
Grand Traverse County had widespread power outages and impassable roads as a result of the storm. Communities affected there reported damaged homes and public facilities as well as “an extraordinarily large amount of fallen tree debris,” state officials said Monday.
“My staff has been actively working with our local emergency management partners in all counties affected by last week’s severe storms,” Capt. Chris Kelenske, deputy state director of emergency management and homeland security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD, said in a statement. “I have directed my staff to work closely with Grand Traverse County so they can partner in these relief efforts.”
Authorities on Saturday reopened parts of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore about a week after severe storms and violent winds uprooted trees and spoiled the landscape in the popular tourist area.
The National Park Service announced the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and Dune Climb have partially reopened. The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail also has been cleared from Empire to Glen Haven, but the stretch between Glen Haven and Glen Arbor remains closed.
Park officials say access to the descent from the Lake Michigan Overlook is prohibited because of frequent emergency calls. Since Leelanau County is recovering from the damage, authorities have limited availability to respond.