Houghton County – The local governments in Houghton County today expressed their thanks to Gov. Rick Snyder, who last week pledged additional state dollars to cover all of the local government match obligations for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance for repairs needed as a result of the Father’s Day 2018 storm.
The Governor’s commitment of a total of $7.4 million in FEMA match comes after Houghton City Manager Eric Waara, PE, Hancock City Manager Glen Anderson, Houghton County Road Commission (HCRC) Managing Director Kevin Harju, PE, and HCRC Vice Chair Ken Rowe made a September 26 trip to the State Capitol in Lansing.
Throughout the visit, which was arranged by Sen. Tom Casperson and assisted by the County Road Association of Michigan, the Houghton team talked about the flooding disaster and the magnitude of the financial impact with the Governor’s office; Rep. Scott Dianda, Sen. Goeff Hansen, Sen. Jim Stamas and Rep. Shane Hernandez ; as well as representatives of the state Departments of Natural Resources, State Police, Environmental Quality and Transportation; among others. They requested state funds to assist in restoring infrastructure for Houghton County residents.
The rebuilding costs for Houghton County infrastructure are estimated in the tens of millions of dollars, which is eligible for FEMA funds although matching funds of 25 percent are required. Those match costs, if borne by the local units of government out of already-stretched budgets, would have meant some units would have had to commit almost all of their annual budgets just to provide the match.
“The City of Houghton is thankful that Governor Snyder took our situation seriously – all over the county,” said Houghton Mayor Robert Backon. “This help with the match will ensure that we have funds to repair the damage and still have enough dollars to plow the streets, keep the streetlights on, and maintain the regular services our residents expect.”
Mary Sears, Franklin Township Supervisor, said the needed match dollars alone, with the scope of the repairs needed, would have exceeded the township’s entire annual budget.
“We were looking at having to pay out more than we take in for a whole year,” Sears said. “There would have been nothing left. This money will allow us to still operate the rest of the township.”
“There are still some other match commitments we will have to make, but overall this pledge by the Governor goes a long way toward all of us being able to make these repairs happen”, said Houghton County Road Commission Engineer/Manager Kevin Harju, PE. “We can go into winter with some confidence that we will be able to afford operations and resume working on the repairs next spring,” he said.
Together, the Houghton team will remain in touch with UP legislators and Appropriations Committee chairs to determine if state supplemental dollars to be considered later this year, can assist in Houghton County’s recovery effort.