County responds to FEMA assistance denial

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Damage from the June 17 flash flooding has been met with FEMA public assistance but a denial of individual assistance.

HOUGHTON COUNTY — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance for individuals and households has been denied for Houghton, Gogebic and Menominee Counties.

The denial comes following a declaration for public assistance last week.

“Based on our review of all the information available, including the result of the joint Individual Assistance Damage Assessment, it has been determined that the impact to the individuals and households from this event was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant the designation of Individual Assistance under FEMA-4381-DR,” FEMA said in a letter to Governor Rick Snyder.

The state of Michigan can appeal the decision and will have 30 days to do so from the official decision date, August 6, said FEMA External Affairs Specialist Dan Shulman.

The county is still working on next steps following the denial.

“When they did their preliminary assessment… those numbers were not shared with us at the time but when the state was here we knew that it was a possibility that it wasn’t going to make that threshold,” said Emergency Measures Director Christopher Van Arsdale.

FEMA is expected to arrive for the initial briefing on public assistance sometime next week. Local officials will also be meeting with State Officials about Section 19 funding for the July 12 flooding.

“Those two pieces are moving forward at the moment,” Van Arsdale said.

U.S. Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow both issued statements following the decision.

“While swiftly repairing the roads is vital to the health of the community, the families whose houses have been severely damaged or destroyed also need help to rebuild their homes and their lives. I’m disappointed by this decision and will work with FEMA and the State of Michigan to identify any additional avenues for individual assistance. As the State continues to work closely with affected communities, I encourage them to identify any personal property damages that may not have been captured by the original damage assessment. Copper Country residents are resilient, but we must do everything in our power to ensure they have access to critical resources to address their needs before winter arrives,” Peters said.

“I strongly disagree with FEMA’s decision to deny Individual Assistance to the residents of Houghton, Gogebic and Menominee counties who are still suffering after severe flooding,” said Senator Stabenow. “I urge the State to appeal this decision so that residents who have been working tirelessly to get back on their feet will have the resources they need to rebuild and recover.”

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