FEMA to conduct 'virtual' damage assessment of Midland County flood | Michigan Radio

FEMA to conduct 'virtual' damage assessment of Midland County flood

May 23, 2020

FEMA Regional Administrator James Joseph
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

FEMA’s regional administrator says his office will not be conducting the usual door-to-door assessment of flood damage in Midland County.

Last Tuesday, two dams failed after days of heavy rain, unleashing damaging floods along the Tittabawassee River.    

The flood forced thousands to evacuate in the city of Midland. It also devastated the small community of Sanford. 

Regional FEMA Administrator James Joseph toured the flood zone Saturday with U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, along with Rep. John Moolenaar, who’s congressional district covers most of the flood zone.

Normally, FEMA sends teams to personally inspect damage, but due to constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, Joseph says FEMA’s inspection will be “virtual.”

“The state police have been doing aerial photography. The local communities have doing some assessments as they drive through the neighborhoods,” says Joseph. “It’s that imagery that my team back in Chicago will utilize.”

Joseph says FEMA agents will be available for in-person inspections in some cases, including roads and bridges.

“There may be things that we do need to put eyes on the ground on......that’s where we’ll utilize the team that’s already here in Michigan,” says Joseph.

This past week, Pres. Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Midland County, freeing up federal agencies to assist with the recovery effort.

On Friday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expanded her state of emergency declaration to include Arenac, Gladwin and Saginaw counties.