Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Western UP reports $30 million in weather damage


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Two recent storms, along with flooding in relation to a heavy snow season, has resulted in tens of millions of dollars in damage for six counties in the western U.P.

“So far, approximately $30 million in damage has been reported,” said Steve Derusha, 8th District Coordinator of the Michigan State Police’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

And more costs are still “trickling in,” he said by phone on Tuesday.

The estimated costs now qualify the region to apply for federal aid, which requires a minimum threshold of $18.47 million in damage.

In order to meet that threshold, Gogebic and Ontonagon counties teamed with the counties of Houghton, Baraga, Marquette and Iron. Alger and Dickinson counties originally were part of the group, but their officials backed out due to what they regard as limited damage there.

Spring snowstorms occurred in mid-April and early May, leaving this region with a grand total of 253.4 inches of snow for the season as of last week, by which time warm weather was taking a firmer hold.

According to Derusha, county officials are still in the process of submitting damage costs that then are analyzed by state officials.

So far, he said the state has validated $20 million of this region’s $30 million in damage and is working on validating the remainder.

Derusha said that the information will be shared with authorities from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We hope to have a good amount of data sent to them by the end of this week because they are coming next week,” he said.

Derusha said that a team of officials from FEMA and the state will meet with local parties, including representatives of road commissions, to study the damage and associated needs.

Meeting dates and exact locations have not yet been scheduled, he said.

Derusha also noted that the MSP’s EMHD also has not yet determined exactly when it will submit the application for help from FEMA.

But he emphasized of the process, “We’re knee-deep in it.”

He also assured, “It’s a done deal that the state is going to apply. It’s not a done deal that FEMA is going to grant it.”

Regarding the timing of FEMA’s response once an application is submitted, Derusha warned that “it’s different under different administrations.”

He said it also depends on other national issues occurring during the same period of time, including disasters that have happened, or might happen, in other regions of the country.