The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Gogebic County added to emergency declaration


June 22, 2018


LANSING — While it may not have sustained as much damage as some of the other counties, Gogebic County will also be able to use additional resources when rebuilding after Gov. Rick Snyder directed it be added to the state of disaster declaration from this weekend’s storms.

Snyder directed Michigan State Police to add the county to the original disaster declaration issued Monday for Houghton and Menominee counties.

“The residents of these three counties have experienced significant hardship since last weekend’s heavy rainfall and severe flooding,” Snyder said in a news release. “We have committed all state resources to assist with the response, and we’re committed to protecting all residents while quickly rebuilding damaged infrastructure. I want to thank all the responding state agencies, local emergency management services, local officials and volunteer services for the work they have been doing to help the impacted communities recover.”

Nearly 8 inches of rain fell in Ironwood during the weekend’s storms, which downed trees and flooded roads in Ironwood Township and other areas of the county.

“Our roads held up fairly good compared to the amount of rain we received. We did have a lot of areas that had water over the road of course, and wash-outs — a lot of drive culverts that were washed out. I think it was a combination of both the amount of rain we received and just several drive culverts that are getting to the point of failure themselves,” said Darren Pionk, engineer-manager for the Gogebic County Road Commission. “It was kind of a perfect storm in regards to some of the ditch-lines not handling the amount of rain we received.”

Sunday’s rain undid a lot of the repairs the county made after Friday’s storm. According to Pionk, the damage wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

“At this point we’re still adding up the numbers, but we’re probably close to $70,000-$75,000 worth of emergency repairs that we did,” Pionk said.

“It’s a hit on our budget; it’s a lot of extra time that my crew and my foreman had to contend with over the weekend, but we were able to manage it properly,” he continued. Snyder’s declaration makes a variety of state resources available for the rebuilding efforts. Already, 70 soldiers with the Michigan National Guard have been activated to assist with road repairs and debris removal in the affected areas.

Pionk said the county will likely seek to use state resources available through the declaration to replace several culverts. County funds have already been devoted to the replacement of several others — such as several culverts on Brace Road in Ironwood Township.

“We will pursue (using state emergency funds) just because a $70,000 hit on my budget is still a $70,000 hit on the road commission’s budget,” Pionk said. “If there’s an opportunity to get reimbursed for some of the repair work … we’re going to go after it.”

One point of good news from the weekend’s storms was the repairs made on Lake Road at Little Girl’s Point performed as expected.

When he heard there was flooding on Lake Road in the township, Pionk said he immediately went to the Point to see how the repairs made after the 2016 storm were holding up.

“(I’m) very happy with the performance of what we completed out there, no issues at all,” he said, adding the road commission got several emails from residents at the Point reassuring them the work was holding.

While work repairing the remaining sporadic washouts and problem areas, Pionk said all roads in the county had been re-opened.

He urged residents to report areas that may need repair after the storm.

“We have a lot of miles to cover, and another set of eyes out there to tell us where some problems are is greatly appreciated,” Pionk said.

Residents can contact the road commission at 906-667-0233, or by visiting

Meanwhile, funeral arrangements have been made for the 12-year-old Houghton boy who died from injuries sustained in flooding over the weekend. He was trapped in the basement.

Thatcher Alan Markham is survived by his parents, Rodney and Joanne and four siblings.

Funeral services will be conducted at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at the First Apostolic Lutheran Church of Houghton, with David Taivalkoski to officiate. Burial will be in the Oskar Cemetery.

Friends may call on today, June 22, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the First Apostolic Lutheran Church of Houghton and Saturday from noon until the time of services at the church.


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