WASHINGTON (WLUC) - FEMA has decided to not offer financial help to individuals affected by June flooding in Houghton, Gogebic and Menominee counties.
FEMA previously declared these areas eligible to receive assistance through the Public Assistance Program. Since Public Assistance is only available to public facilities such as roads, culverts, and water and sewer systems, many homeowners are still in need of individual assistance to repair extensive damage to their homes.
Houghton County Administrator Eric Forsberg says the news is disappointing but is not surprising.
"We knew going in that it was highly unlikely," said Forsberg. "The number of homes damaged wasn't high enough to meet threshold for individual assistance.
FEMA confirmed that information in a statement, but says it remains committed to working with Michigan in its recovery.
"It was determined based on the information provided by the state that the impact to individuals and households from this event was not of the severity and magnitude to warrant federal assistance," said a FEMA spokesperson. "FEMA’s decision means that the governor can proceed to work with other federal agencies through their own authorities. The governor also has thirty days to appeal the decision with additional information."
Sen. Gary Peters expressed his disappointment in a statement.
“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," said Peters. "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.”
President Donald Trump has declared a disaster in Houghton, Gogebic and Menominee counties, which means FEMA money will help state, local and tribal governments pay for repairing roads that washed away in June.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow is urging the state to appeal the decision.
“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 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.”