By BOB OLIVER
DEARBORN – Just over one month after record rainfall caused flooding throughout metropolitan Detroit, including Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, Gov. Rick Snyder announced he requested a presidential declaration of disaster for Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties.
Announcing the decision Sept. 16, Snyder said the decision came following two weeks of in-depth assessment to discover the total amount of damage to the area.
Supplemental federal aid was requested in the form of individual and public assistance to eligible residents as well as state and local governments because of the “severity and magnitude of the flooding.”
“So many communities were devastated by the historic flood, and we’re looking for every available resource to help them recover,” Snyder said. “I was proud of the way Michiganders pulled together to help neighbors and family members.
“The state was able to provide assistance, and I’m asking the federal government for additional resources as the recovery efforts continue.”
Snyder’s request will be reviewed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which sent representatives to the tri-county area Aug. 26 to tour the hardest hit areas to assess and validate damages and disaster impacts against federal assistance eligibility criteria.
FEMA will then advise President Barack Obama, who will decide whether a disaster declaration should be granted.
Dearborn Department of Public Information Director Mary Laundroche said the city was happy Snyder “has moved the process forward by making the formal request to the president.”
“This means we are closer to a decision about federal resources becoming available for our residents and to assist with the overall recovery,” Laundroche said. “We still need to be patient, and we know there are more steps to go, but hopefully this will lead to some form of monetary aid to help those affected by the Aug. 11 flooding.”
According to FEMA, several factors are evaluated in deciding whether an area is eligible for federal relief money, including the size and scope of damage as well as threat to public safety, number of primary homes requiring extensive repairs or with structural damage, the number and length of time people are displaced, extent of the business losses and ability of the community to recover.
When evaluating a community’s ability to recover, FEMA reviews “specific characteristics of each — such as demographic and economic data — that may impact their ability to recover” and “critical infrastructure that may be unavailable for an extended period of time” such as hospitals, schools, utility services and nursing homes.
Dearborn and Dearborn Heights were hit hard by the flooding, which affected streets and major highways as well as residential and commercial properties.
Dearborn Department of Public Works Deputy Director Eric White said more than 6 inches of rain fell in the city over a matter of hours, which overloaded water systems and caused massive flooding in basements citywide.
City officials estimated that about 40 percent of residential and commercial properties experienced flooding or sewer backups in their basements that destroyed property and damaged walls, carpeting, furnaces and other major appliances.
Laundroche said the clean-up process had trash crews working longer hours and Saturdays to keep up, and that they collected almost 2,400 tons of bulk trash material.
In all of 2013, the city collected about 2,500 tons in bulk materials.
The city also opened up its DPW Yard and allowed residents to drop off their own bulk items for free.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)