The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Wisconsin prepares federal disaster request


July 7, 2018

HURLEY — Iron County, along with other communities across northwestern Wisconsin, continues to prepare the necessary documentation needed in Madison to determine if the state will request a federal disaster declaration for the mid-June rain and flooding.

Iron County was one of five counties in the state of emergency Gov. Scott Walker issued June 18, along with Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett and Douglas counties.

The communities are verifying the estimated costs of the damage from the June 15-17 storms are as accurate as possible, according to Iron County Emergency Management Director Stacy Ofstad, so the state can confirm enough damage occurred to qualify for federal assistance.

“Once they have the numbers they will notify the governor to send the letter to the president,” Ofstad said.

Ofstad said the latest estimate puts the cost of the damage at roughly $10 million across the five counties.

The state needs to incur at least $8.6 million to $8.7 million roughly to qualify for federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While Iron County’s numbers haven’t been finalized, Ofstad said the latest estimates had $800,000 in damage in the county — with much of the damage occurring in the town of Anderson.

Walker has roughly 30 days from the end of the storm to request the federal assistance, Ofstad said.

If President Donald Trump does issue a federal disaster declaration, FEMA would reimburse 75 percent of eligible costs and the state of Wisconsin would reimburse the respective communities an additional 12.5 percent.

Even if the state doesn’t get a federal declaration, Ofstad said state assistance will be available.

In this scenario, the state reimburses 70 percent of eligible costs. Certain road repairs may qualify for Wisconsin Department of Transportation funding, which covers 75 percent of eligible rebuilding costs.

In Michigan, work also continues to determine if there was enough damage in several Upper Peninsula counties to qualify for a federal disaster declaration.

FEMA recently toured Gogebic County, as well as Houghton and Menominee counties, as part of a preliminary damage assessment.

The Federal Highway Administration announced $2 million in emergency relief funding for the western U.P. counties impacted by the mid-June flooding Tuesday.

Gogebic County Road Commission Engineering Manager Darren Pionk said it was still too early to determine if any of that $2 million would be spent in Gogebic County.


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