U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin wrote to President Obama on Monday urging him to approve a disaster designation for 16 Michigan counties affected by severe spring floods.
The letter supports a June 7 request by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, the first step in the formal process of seeking federal disaster declaration, which clears the way for enhanced federal aid to individuals, families, businesses and local governments.
The text of the senators' letter follows:
June 10, 2013
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We are writing in support of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's request on June 7, 2013 for a disaster declaration in 16 Michigan counties that were impacted by severe flooding from April 16 through May 14, 2013. The counties included in this request are: Allegan, Barry, Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Ionia, Kent, Keweenaw, Marquette, Midland, Muskegon, Newaygo, Ontonagon, Osceola, Ottawa and Saginaw.
For nearly a month, these counties experienced torrential rains and unprecedented flooding, resulting in millions of dollars in damages to homes, businesses, and public buildings and infrastructure. The conditions were treacherous, with extensive damages. The flooding in western and central Michigan was unlike anything experienced in decades. A prolonged period of heavy rains caused the Grand River to swell to historic levels in mid-April, prompting mass evacuations. Vital highways developed sinkholes, some roads were washed out, and culverts were weakened due to high water volume and sedimentation. Public buildings, including the Grand Rapids City Hall, were damaged. The Saginaw River and Bay suffered increased sedimentation as a result of the flooding, which has severely restricted commercial shipping.
The Governor declared a state of emergency on May 7, 2013, allowing state resources to assist with the recovery. However, with the damages so severe, effective recovery is beyond the capacity of state and local governments.
The State of Michigan, along with FEMA, estimate that repairs to damaged public infrastructure could cost approximately $18.5 million. We urge you to make the disaster declaration and provide the requested assistance, so that Michigan communities can rebuild. Thank you for your consideration of our request.
Debbie Stabenow Carol Levin