Snyder asks Trump for disaster declaration after floods

Jonathan Oosting
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday asked President Donald Trump to declare a major disaster in Michigan following severe flash flooding in Bay, Isabella, Gladwin and Midland counties in June.

A presidential declaration could open the door for federal aid, including grants for temporary housing, home repairs, low-cost loans and other programs to help mid-Michigan residents and businesses affected by the flooding.

Snyder also asked for supplementary federal aid in the form of individual disaster assistance due the severity and magnitude of the floods, his office said.

The request follows what the Snyder administration called an “in-depth assessment” of area damage. Teams conducted a preliminary assessment on July 6-9 to review and confirm damaged homes, businesses and other facilities across the region.

“I’m proud of the way Michiganders have come together to help each other recover from this historic flood, and we’re looking at every resource available to help them rebuild,” Snyder said in a statement.

“Community leaders, emergency managers, first responders, local officials and non-profit organizations have worked tirelessly to help their communities recover from the impacts of the flooding. Now, I’m asking the federal government for additional resources to assist even more with recovery efforts.”

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley declared a “state of disaster” in Isabella and Midland counties on June 23, and Snyder amended the state declaration to include Bay and Gladwin counties on June 28.

Republican U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar of Midland, Attorney General Bill Schuette and other local officials asked Snyder to pursue disaster funding on June 25, when some area roadways remained underwater. Similar flooding in and around Midland County in 1986 resulted in more than $58 million in damages, Schuette’s office said at the time.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will review Snyder’s request and recommend to Trump whether he should declare a disaster. The final decision will be up to Trump, according to Snyder’s office.

Snyder requested a major disaster declaration over the Flint water contamination crisis in early 2016. Then-President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency but denied the request for a major disaster declaration because the Flint-crisis had man-made rather than natural origins.

State Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, said the June flooding was the second highest on record and had caused “tremendous devastation.” He welcomed Snyder’s federal request, as did Moolenaar.

“I have been in contact with FEMA since the flooding occurred and the agency has been very responsive, including its preliminary assessment,” Moolenaar said in a statement. “I hope federal, state and local officials will continue the exemplary work they have done in response to the flooding.”