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Trump declares federal disaster after Michigan flooding

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — President Donald Trump on Wednesday declared that a major disaster exists in mid-Michigan following severe flash flooding and storm damage in late June, clearing the way for federal emergency aid to supplement ongoing recovery efforts.

Federal funding will be available to households affected by the storms June 22 to 27 in the counties of Bay, Gladwin, Isabella and Midland, as well as the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe within Isabella County, the White House said.

“The losses sustained by these communities have been severe due to the magnitude of the flash flooding,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement.

“This presidential declaration is an important step in our continuing efforts to provide assistance and help Michigan families and businesses recover from the effects of this disaster.”

The federal aid could include grants for temporary housing or home repairs or low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and programs to help individuals and business owners recover.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is also making low-interest disaster loans available to residents and businesses in Bay, Gladwin, Isabella and Midland counties, according to Snyder’s office.

Snyder asked Trump to declare a disaster a week and a half ago, following an assessment of damage to homes, businesses and other facilities in the area. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley declared a state of disaster for Isabella and Midland counties on June 23, and Bay and Gladwin counties were later included in the declaration.

Communities across the state are now also eligible for the hazard mitigation assistance program, which can be used for measures aimed at reducing the risk of damage to human health or property from natural hazards in the future.

“I strongly encourage communities to seize the opportunity for hazard mitigation assistance to enhance the safety of Michigan’s residents,” Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, commander of the Michigan State Police’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, said in a statement.

“With federal aid, our communities can initiate projects to save lives and protect public property and health.”

Snyder said eligible local governments affected by the flooding may apply for assistance grants through the state’s Disaster and Emergency Contingency Fund for up to $100,000 or 10 percent of the previous year’s operating budget, whichever is less.

U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, welcomed the emergency declaration.

“State and local governments in mid-Michigan have done an outstanding job in the aftermath of June’s flooding, but the cost of cleanup and recovery was more than they could bear alone,” he said in a statement. “Today’s decision to grant federal assistance from FEMA will go a long way toward helping communities and families rebuild.”

Steven W. Johnson was named the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected counties.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance Thursday by registering online at or by calling (800) 621-3362 or (800) 462-7585 for the hearing and speech impaired. The phone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

Snyder last year asked for a major disaster declaration for the Flint water crisis. President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency but not a major disaster because of the crisis’ man-made origins.

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