Western U.P. to receive federal aid for flash flooding relief

The Copper Country and western Upper Peninsula received some good news last week in the form of notification that President Donald Trump had declared Houghton, Gogebic and Menominee counties major disaster areas.

Severe flash flooding had inflicted significant damage on the area, wrecking or washing away homes, businesses and a great deal of expensive-to-replace infrastructure.

According to an article that appeared in the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette, the next step for the Federal Emergency Management Agency — the federal agency that generally oversees disaster relief — will be coordinating with the state of Michigan.

Operations will be overseen by a federal coordinating officer but projects will be locally managed, the Gazette story stated.

The public assistance program is a refundable cost reimbursement program.

“That means that the community or whoever the applicants are will have to lay out the initial money, or they can work something out with their contractors, and then get reimbursed when the project is completed. Depending on how the state chooses to manage the program, they may provide internal funding but that’s not something we know the answers to just yet,” a FEMA official said.

For Houghton County the damage sits at $30 million. Of that amount, $16 million is FEMA eligible, primarily on local roads.

Other units of government — principally townships — continue to clear away, assess, repair and rebuild.

So while the disaster declaration is a very good thing, it’s not going to solve all of the problems the flash flooding on Father’s Day left.

Still, it is very good news and a very positive step in the right direction.