Friday, July 15, 2016
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today declared a state of disaster for Gogebic County after an EF1 tornado and flash flooding caused significant damage to private property and public roads on July 12. In accordance with the declaration, Snyder also issued an Executive Order activating the Michigan National Guard to assist with response and recovery efforts in the region.
“I would like to thank our emergency responders for immediately addressing life and safety issues,” Snyder said. “The state will use all of its resources to ensure communities recover and residents return to a sense of normalcy.”
Gogebic County and nearby areas have been severely impacted by the tornado and flash flooding, causing widespread and severe damage to private property and public roads. Efforts have been underway by the community to remove debris and regain access to homes within the affected areas to ensure public health and safety.
The National Weather Service confirmed an EF1 tornado struck three miles south of Bessemer. Winds were estimated at around 90 mph, resulting in downed trees, power outages and flooding in multiple areas within Gogebic County. Most power has been restored, but many washed out areas remain, including two bridges and 20 culverts, leaving some residents without emergency access.
By declaring a state of disaster, Snyder has made available all state resources in cooperation with local recovery efforts in the disaster area. The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) to coordinate state efforts with the National Guard.
Members of the National Guard are expected to begin arriving in Gogebic County this weekend and will respond with up to 40 soldiers. They will assist in clearing debris and reestablishing roadways.
"We have been actively working with our local emergency management partners in Gogebic County," said Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police. "MSP troopers and personnel from our Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division have been engaged in the affected communities since this storm struck."
Since July 12, Gogebic County has been under “local state of emergency,” which activates local emergency response and recovery plans. By requesting a governor’s declaration, the county has determined local resources are insufficient to address the situation and state assistance is required to protect public health, safety and property to lessen or avert the threat of a crisis.
In accordance with the Michigan Emergency Management Plan, the director of the Michigan State Police, or her designee, is responsible for coordinating all state efforts, including the Michigan National Guard to assist Gogebic County. Under Executive Order 2016-17, the active state service units and individuals in the Michigan National Guard are authorized to assist in maximizing all state efforts to assist Gogebic County in accordance with the Michigan Emergency Management Plan.
This is the third time Gov. Snyder has activated the National Guard. The first was for the massive Duck Lake wildfire in the Upper Peninsula in May 2012. The second was for the Flint water emergency in January 2016.