State covering FEMA match is good news for road commission

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HANCOCK, Mich. (WLUC) - Upper Peninsula entities get another boost to help pay for Father’s Day flood damage repair.

"We were really glad to hear that the governor is allowing the state to pay the additional 12.5 percent," said county engineer Kevin Harju.

Governor Rick Snyder authorized money to cover 100 percent of FEMA-required matching funds for U.P. counties hit by June floods.

"When the flood first started, between the Federal Highway grant program and the FEMA grant program the Road Commission's match was going to be $7 million. So far we have been able to come up with $4 million of the $7 million, so we still have an additional $3 million dollars to get for the 20 percent match on the Federal Highway (grants)," said Harju.

FEMA requires a 25 percent match from municipalities. Snyder originally authorized state money to cover half of that in early September. The state will now cover the full 25 percent.

"It was a relief to see that the additional funding would be made available. We still have a lot more to go. We're thankful for the governor allowing the state to pay the other 12.5 percent match on the FEMA funds, which is about $1,875,000 for the Road Commission," said Harju.

The Houghton County Road Commission system alone was hit with $30 million of damage. The hope is to have half of those repairs done by winter.

"It is a long process. We are continuing to work as fast as we can. We did take a SIB loan to at least be able to make payments until we can find out another funding source, but we have yet to secure the remaining $3 million that is going to be required," said Harju.

SIB loans, or State Infrastructure Bank loans, are designed to help public entities meet urgent project funding demands. The Road Commission hopes to obtain grant money to pay back those loans.

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