Emergency declarations could net cities thousands for clean-up

In the wake of Wednesday’s microburst storm, the mayors of Farmington and Farmington Hills signed emergency declarations to recoup city cleanup costs.

Both cities experienced straight line winds and torrential rains on July 7. Thousands of DTE customers lost power after toppling trees, storm debris, and heavy limbs took out power lines.

Farmington’s Sara Bowman and Vicki Barnett in Farmington Hills both credit State Rep. Samantha Steckloff, State Sen. Jeremy Moss, and U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens for reaching out on Thursday morning.

County, state review declarations

“All of them suggested an emergency order,” Bowman said. “If we meet the criteria, we’re eligible for up to $250,000.”

In Farmington Hills, Barnett signed a 7-day declaration after conversations with the city manager, police and fire chiefs. Council members extended it Monday.

Oakland County officials review the documents; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office makes a final determination.

Both cities have massive overtime costs, with public works crews and first responders working around the clock. Barnett said residents overwhelmed the 9-1-1 dispatch center, which took a record number of calls Wednesday.

City cleanup may take weeks

Both cities have hired contractors to help remove storm debris and offered residents wood chipping service.

Neither has damage estimates. The Hills declaration notes public right-of-way cleanup may take three to four weeks. Crews will also re-grade gravel roads.

“We knew this cleanup of all these damaged trees is going to be exceedingly expensive,” Barnett said Monday, “We wanted to make sure we could come by with chipper trucks and help people as best we could.”

Hills city manager Gary Mekjian said Monday that around 70 percent of the city lost power. A DTE representative told him that storm damage exceeded the company’s expectations. Some residents experienced off-and-on outages as crews re-energized circuits, only to find more trouble.

Also, Mekjian said, weakened tree limbs continued to fall on power lines after the initial storm.

Sign up for emergency alerts

He encouraged residents to sign up for FH Alert, which sends emergency text and email messages. Find the registration link at fhgov.com.

Farmington residents can sign up for local alerts at nixle.com.

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