By JOHN PEPIN
For The Daily News
MARQUETTE - U.S. senators Carl Levin, D-Detroit and Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing urged President Obama this week to approve a disaster designation which could provide $18.5 million in spring flood relief for 16 Michigan counties, including Marquette.
Levin and Stabenow wrote a letter to Obama supporting a request this month from Gov. Rick Snyder seeking the federal disaster declaration, which would allow for enhanced federal disaster aid to individuals, families, businesses and local governments.
Snyder's letter is among the first steps required in the process of seeking the federal aid.
Levin and Stabenow said severe spring flooding occurred April 16 through May 14 and affected 16 Michigan counties, including Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw, Marquette and Ontonagon counties in the Upper Peninsula.
"For nearly a month, these counties experienced torrential rains and unprecedented flooding, resulting in millions of dollars in damages to homes, businesses and public buildings and infrastructure," Levin and Stabenow wrote. "The flooding in western and central Michigan was unlike anything experienced in decades."
The senators said Snyder declared a state of emergency May 7, which brought state resources to the affected areas, but the damages were so severe the effective recovery is beyond the capacity of state and local governments.
State and federal officials who assessed the flooding effects estimated damage to public infrastructure at about $18.5 million.
"We urge you to make the disaster declaration and provide the requested assistance, so that Michigan communities can rebuild," the senators wrote.
Spring flooding occurred in several parts of the U.P. in April and May including the Michigamme, Sturgeon, Paint, Chocolay, Menominee and Ontonagon river systems.