Michigan urges Trump to reconsider denial of aid for Upper Peninsula flash flood victims

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News
Flooding damaged an area near Razorback Drive in Houghton, Michigan, after a series of storms made their way through the Upper Peninsula, Sunday, June 17, 2018.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan's U.S. senators are urging the federal government to reconsider the denial of individual assistance for families affected by severe flash flooding in three Upper Peninsula counties in June. 

President Donald Trump approved a request for a disaster declaration and public assistance earlier this month for Houghton, Gogebic and Menominee counties, but the  Federal Emergency Management Agency denied Michigan’s request for individual assistance last week. 

Individual assistance can include grants for temporary housing and uninsured home repairs or low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, according to officials.

Snyder this week appealed the denial to the FEMA, stressing the severity, magnitude and impact of the disaster and need for assistance to households and individuals to repair their homes.

Snyder's letter said the concentrated damage caused by the flooding is unprecedented, with the hardest hit — Houghton County — containing significantly more residences either destroyed or with major damage on a per-capita basis than during the 2017 mid-Michigan flooding.  

FEMA'S aid to the area has included resources for public facilities such as roads, culverts and water and sewer systems.

But "there remains a critical need for assistance to homeowners and businesses who have experienced extensive damage or property loss,” said Snyder, a Republican.

“Given the severity of this disaster and the sensitive financial situation facing many low-income households, I am requesting the denial of individual assistance be reconsidered,” Snyder said.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, both Democrats, on Thursday wrote to Trump urging him to approve Snyder's appeal.

They said the flooding affected an estimated 900 homes, causing major electrical and structural damage and extensive mold, worrying that without help families will end up living in unsafe conditions. 

“We have seen firsthand the extensive damage and heard from those affected by the flash flooding that additional assistance is needed," the senators wrote.

Only 18 individuals and businesses have active flood insurances policies in the three counties where the flooding occurred, according to Stabenow and Peters

"Nonprofits and local governments are doing their best to assist homeowners, but without adequate federal funding, it will be nearly impossible to bring in the necessary resources to make the repairs quickly and ensure families have a safe home before winter," their joint letter said.