Beware, Detroit: Flood relief may not be coming
Plenty of Detroit homeowners got a big surprise from their insurance agents after the recent flooding in the tri-county area, finding that their policies didn’t cover losses from water damage caused by the storm.
They still held out hope that a disaster declaration by Gov. Rick Snyder would offer them financial help when Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials arrived to confirm the damage, but they might be in for another big disappointment
Anyone hoping for a government bailout is about to find they are not “too big to fail” like the Wall Street Banks and automakers General Motors and Chrysler.
The warning came from Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson after he surveyed the widespread flood damage in places like Ferndale, Oak Park, and Royal Oak.
“They don’t give that money away too easily,” said Patterson in gloomily observing that the county might not meet the threshold of anywhere from $13-$20 million in damages required for qualification, depending on the whims of FEMA. But that money is simply for public repairs, not private damage.
Homeowners, said Patterson, can at best hope for low interest loans from the federal government, loans that will have to be repayed. “A lot of people are going to pay for that on their own dime,” said the Oakland County political boss.
“After all these years of paying taxes…now that they have a need of expectation and support, we don’t get it. It goes to all those people scootin’ across the border,” said Patterson in reference to federal government assistance for the influx of illegal aliens in the American southwest.
FEMA inspectors have finally arrived in town to expect the damage, a full two weeks after the area’s worst rain storm in 95 years.
Shamefully, some Democratic office seekers have tried to gain political advantage, using the victims of the storm as props along the way. First they complained that Rick Snyder didn’t respond quickly enough, though the governor interrupted a visit to the Upper Peninsula to tour the damage.
Then, citing the massive flooding on area freeways, they criticized him for overlooking the longtime need for road infrastructure improvements, ignoring his years long call for increased spending on such projects, an initiative the Legislature has failed to address.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer, campaigning on the west side of the state, rode in on his white horse several days later to conduct a political stunt by helping one homeowner clean her basement. N, before leaving for the campaign trail again.
Snyder was criticized for noting on my WJR radio show that his family once faced severe storm damage at their lake home, with Dems apparently believing personal loss is insignificant for people of certain income levels.
Such a cynical attitude must sit well with those who happened to have been driving Cadillac, Lincoln, BMW, or Mercedes vehicles that were trapped in the freeway flood waters.
Following the Democrat reasoning, people who saw those cars damaged aren’t as important as those who drive less expensive model vehicles ruined by the waters.
Democrats, and all of us for that matter, need to take a reality check here. The Michigan Department of Transportation reported in the storm’s aftermath that numerous pumping stations were inoperable because of age, disrepair, or damage caused by copper thieves.
Given those circumstances, it’s remarkable that MDOT was able to drain the water and clear the sludge to make the roadways navigable again within 48 hours after the deluge hit.
Of course, you won’t find those Democratic politicians congratulating the transportation department’s efforts, or its tireless employees, for working through difficult conditions to so quickly resolve the problems.
Even more incredibly, we have not heard these opportunists complain about the two week delay in response from the Obama administration to arrive on seen and help support recovery from the damage.
This situation is too serious for political gamesmanship.
The Democrats who seek power need to pressure the administration to free up some of our federal tax dollars to help defray recovery costs – after all, there’s still stimulus money remaining for those shovel ready jobs – and Republicans in power in Lansing need to get serious about addressing the longer term problem of improving Michigan’s road infrastructure system.
Frank Beckmann is host of “The Frank Beckmann Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday.