Government

Kent County assesses flood damage for Gov. Snyder

April 26, 2013
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When Kent County commissioners extended the county’s state-of-emergency status Thursday, they took that action to give county officials more time to assess the flood damage from the Grand River overflow.

Lt. Jack Stewart, the county’s emergency management coordinator, said the assessment process is necessary to determine if Gov. Rick Snyder will issue a Declaration of Disaster, which is a necessary designation “toward requesting FEMA funding or assistance.”

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, can provide recovery funds from flooding. But to do so, a state’s governor has to declare that a disaster has occurred, as only a governor can ask for relief funding. Normally, a governor views the damage area before making such a declaration, and Snyder hasn’t visited Kent County as of Friday morning.

Should Snyder make the declaration, he would do that through the FEMA office in Chicago. State and federal officials would conduct a “preliminary damage assessment” to estimate the extent of the disaster and its impact on individuals and public facilities.

But before contacting FEMA, Snyder has to take the appropriate action under state law and direct the execution of the state’s emergency plan. Snyder hasn’t done that yet.

“We are in touch with jurisdictions and know where flooding issues have occurred. Teams will be surveying neighborhoods in the coming weeks, and those assessments will be turned over to the state to determine if a disaster will be declared by the governor,” said Stewart.

Stewart said quite a few residents have called and asked if FEMA funding is available. But he said it’s too early in the process to answer those questions.

The local state-of-emergency declaration will run through May 24.

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