FEMA, lawmakers tour Mid-Michigan flood damage

Midland (WJRT) (05/23/2020) In continuing coverage on FEMA's response to this historic flooding throughout mid-Michigan, Senators Debbie Stabenow, Gary Peters and Congressman John Moolenaar were in Midland Saturday for a bird’s-eye view of the damage and the response taking shape even now.

Top lawmakers, addressing a room full of questions after getting a first-hand look at what rising waters left behind with FEMA Regional Administrator James Joseph.

“We're going to ensure there's no stone unturned,” vowed Joseph.

Federal assistance is now on the ground in one of the hardest hit areas, promising necessary resources as part of a response plan geared to restore the damage. In the meantime, FEMA is urging homeowners to document everything as local and county governments continue critical assessments.

“The floodwaters are just receding and people are now just being able to kind of clean up their homes,” explained Joseph. “It’s too soon to tell, to understand what the full gravity of the need is.”

“We’re going to come back from this,” shared Congressman Moolenaar. “We just can’t do it alone.”

More than ten thousand people had to evacuate Tuesday after the Edenville Dam failed and sent a torrent of water rushing downstream. Senator Debbie Stabenow Saturday added her voice to a growing number of calls to hold the dam’s owner accountable.

“Let me be clear,” began Stabenow. “This owner slow walked and fought federal regulators, stonewalled for years… this privately owned dam could have been addressed before.”

Another piece to this is preventing history from repeating itself: reinvesting in infrastructure now to cut the cost of another disaster in the long run.

“We need to start prioritizing those dams and structures that need immediate action,” argued Senator Peters. “This is going to be a challenge for us but one we’re going to have to rise to… we can’t let this happen again.”

The devastation, however, wasn’t the only thing that turned heads: just as visible, a sense of neighbor helping neighbor.

“What we saw were people handing out free lunches, people that were cooking on site, people who were there to help in the community spirit that everybody's talking about,” related Stabenow. “That's who we are in Michigan.”

The timetable in terms of when relief will physically be made available isn’t quite clear just yet amid lingering unknowns. Count on ABC 12 to keep you updated.