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UP lawmakers frustrated at FEMA denial of flood help

LANSING, MI— State Representatives Greg Markkanen and Dave Prestin say they’re frustrated after Michigan’s request for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was recently rejected, despite major damage to the Upper Peninsula between April and May.

In a press release Tuesday, the U.P. legislators said the denial letter from FEMA has prompted both to highlight the need for federal assistance in the wake of the extreme flooding.

“When severe flooding in the U.P. caused millions of dollars of damage and serious safety concerns for Yoopers this Spring, the state sprang into action and requested a Presidential Declaration from FEMA for a much-needed lifeline,” said Markkanen, of Hancock. “FEMA overlooked the substantial havoc caused by the flooding and rejected Michigan’s request – neglecting the needs of those in my community.”

The request for a major disaster declaration would have brought public assistance and hazard mitigation to the Upper Peninsula to assist people directly impacted by the flooding.

“FEMA’s denial came with the explanation that ‘the impact from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state,’” said Prestin, of Cedar River. “This is a slap in the face to the thousands of Yoopers who faced overwhelming damage to their homes and properties, the small and large businesses affected, along with the many first responders who risked their lives. Further, the flooding made it impossible to enjoy the recreational opportunities we so often boast about here in the U.P.

“This is not a partisan issue – it’s a matter of safety,” he said.

Damages in Houghton, Marquette and Ontonagon counties are estimated to cost around $2 to $3 million, reports show, while Gogebic County is facing a bill closer to $7 million.

Michigan State Police in Newberry are appealing FEMA’s decision.

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.