Whitmer denies request for disaster relief for Portland, Ionia Co.

Posted at 4:44 PM, Jul 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-16 16:45:59-04

PORTLAND, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has denied a request for disaster relief for the City of Portland and Ionia County.

Earlier in the year, ice jams triggered extreme flooding in parts of Portland that displaced residents and caused extensive damage to homes.

Ionia County dealt with serious flooding earlier in the year, prompting Whitmer to declare a state of emergency to provide more funding to recovery efforts.

The city said the total loss from the flooding totaled over $200,000, some of which was covered by insurance. Ionia County requested a total of $105,316 in financial assistance from the state’s Disaster and Contingency Fund, with about $100,000 related to the damage in Portland.

On Monday, Ionia County received a letter saying the request was denied. The letter says the fund is designed to provide personnel, supplies and materials that are beyond the capability of a local government.

Under extreme circumstances, the fund can also provide financial assistance. However, the state determined the funds the county and city used “did not place unreasonably great demands … to clearly demonstrate exhaustion of local effort.”

“In fact, the county’s efforts were commendable and clearly demonstrated the strength and resiliency of local agencies addressing public health and safety threats,” the letter says.

In a Facebook post, Portland City Manager Tutt Gorman said the city disagrees with the decision and will take steps to get state leaders to reconsider.