Houghton County Disaster damage assessed at $50 million

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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - The preliminary estimate submitted to the State of Michigan for damage to Houghton County infrastructure including County and local roads along with municipal water, sewage and drain systems, etc., stands at approximately $50 million. This does not include damage to State assets such as MDOT roads and DNR trails which are reported directly to the State. This also does not include the cost of damage to individual homes and businesses.

The current count for damaged structures in Houghton County totals 151 having minor damage, 70 having major damage, nine that are inaccessible and four that have been destroyed. Approximately 1,000 homes and businesses were visited by the assessment teams.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has completed their inspection of the area’s recreational trails. They report 92 minor washouts, 28 medium washouts, 15 large washouts and 15 massive washouts. All Houghton county recreational trails are closed to all traffic and should not be accessed under any circumstances due to these dangerous conditions.

A group from Michigan Technological University, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.P. Engineers and Architects, and the Houghton County Drain Commissioner’s Office met at Mont Ripley to review the areas damaged during the flood to develop short- and long-term plans to address the washout that occurred in the Ripley Falls area. In the short term, a culvert that plugged during the heavy rains on Sunday will be removed, and equipment will be brought in to ditch and rock a new streambed into the bedrock of Ripley Falls. U.P. Engineers and Architects will also begin work on a long-term plan to restore the area.

A convoy of five semi-trucks will be arriving in Houghton County Saturday bringing in donations of goods from throughout the Upper Peninsula. They are expected to arrive in Chassell at approximately 6:00 p.m., and will receive a fire department escort as they head north.

Torch Lake Township and the City of Houghton will resume their regular garbage pickup on Monday, June 25.

The Village of Lake Linden has water, food, clean-up kits, and tools available for flood victims. Please stop by the Lake Linden School bus garage.

The Salvation Army and St. Ignatius Church have prepared lunches for volunteers for Saturday and Sunday. They will be distributed throughout the community by the Red Cross.

The Health Department has closed all waters in the Western Upper Peninsula for recreational purposes due to contamination from storm water runoff. They also are continuing to provide free water tests for residents whose wells were inundated with flood water. Kits are available at the Health Department office in Hancock.

For those who need help or would like to offer their time, they can call the Volunteer Hotline at (906) 233-6621. They may also visit the Facebook site at Houghton County Flood Volunteer.

Additional information is also available from the Citizen’s Information Line at 2-1-1. Volunteers are needed! 2-1-1 received over 800 calls on Friday.

A plan to deal with household hazardous waste continues to be worked on. Waste Management reports that it may be a number of weeks before they can free up assets to send to Houghton County to collect those items. In the interim, please do not dispose of paint, contaminated gasoline, oil, etc., in the trash. Dumping out these hazardous materials in a storm drain is also never appropriate. Even a little bit makes a bit difference.

The Portage Health Foundation at (906) 523-5920 and the Keweenaw Community Foundation at (906) 482-9673 continue to accept cash donations to help with flood relief. Portage Health Foundation reports that they are in contact with large corporate donors regarding contributions for the Houghton County recover effort.

A member of Team Rubicon, a volunteer disaster relief organization comprised of military veterans, reported at Friday afternoon’s briefing that he has worked disasters all over the country but has never seen a volunteer effort like the one he is witnessing in Houghton County!