MSP & FEMA disaster relief info meeting

President Obama has declared seven counties in the U.P. federal disaster areas because of severe flooding this spring, and federal relief money will soon make its way into upper Michigan.

FEMA will have grant money for local government agencies and some types of private nonprofit groups.

Officials from FEMA and from the Michigan State Police held a public informational meeting in L’Anse this afternoon.

They explained how to apply for the funding.

The application form takes about ten minutes to fill out once all the necessary information is already in hand.

“This begins that process so communities can go ahead and begin that rebuilding process with the infrastructure that has been damaged,” Capt. Chris Kelenske of the Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division said. “What we want to do is take this opportunity to not only repair the road as it was before, but also look at mitigation measures that we can put in place so, if we get flooding again in the future, we’re not repairing the same infrastructure, the same roads and bridges, every time.”

Besides roads and bridges that are washed away, the grant money can be used for debris removal, public utilities and many other uses.

Private businesses and landowners are not eligible for the grants, but FEMA says there should be ways for them to apply for help as well.

“There are, for those people who are affected, and those discussions are ongoing, and the liaisons are having that conversation,” FEMA federal coordinating officer Mark Neveau said. “They were as of yesterday, and so hopefully we’ll have some more information as time goes on. We’ll have people coming up here to work in the Upper Peninsula and we’ll have them stationed here, along with state representatives, to process through what’s necessary to get the assistance.”

In the U.P., Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Marquette and Ontonagon Counties are affected.

August 17th is the deadline to request a public assistance grant.

The Michigan State Police Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division has more information about the application process on its website.