Report: Hundreds of homes sustain flooding damage in Kalamazoo County

Report: Hundreds of homes sustain flooding damage in Kalamazoo County. (File - WWMT)

Newly released figures from the Kalamazoo County damage assessment report revealed more than 200 homes and dozens of businesses substantiated damage in February during the historic flooding event in Kalamazoo County.

According to the county's flooding assessment a total of 212 homes, including 32 businesses sustained damage, ranging from "less affected" to "major." The report indicated 7 homes and 12 businesses sustained major damage.

Total damage is estimated at $2.5 million, however, severe flooding in 2008 caused an estimated $11 million in damage in the Kalamazoo area.

Residents in Kalamazoo Township's Lakewood neighborhood were hit hard. Their life was made easier after the Kalamazoo Township Board of Trustees approved a $8,500 proposal Monday night to place dumpster in township neighborhoods to help with cleanup efforts.

William and Kim Brown returned to their home after evacuating for a week. Now they're working to fix it up.

"That's been really helpful," William said.

Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday requested the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) conduct damage assessments for eight Lower Peninsula counties to pave the way for a physical and economic disaster declaration, which would provide additional financial assistance to residents recovering from the recent floods.

If approved, the SBA disaster assistance program would make low-interest loans available to eligible home and business owners affected by heavy rainfall and snow melt on Feb. 19 to 21.

Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency on Monday for 17 Michigan counties, including in Kalamazoo County. The declaration allows local governments that racked up extra spending from flooding cleanup to tap into a pool of money.

The city of Kalamazoo is eligible to apply for grants to receive reimbursement for response costs up to $100,000. Kalamazoo Deputy City Manager Jeff Chamberlain said city officials are in the process of submitting documentation to hopefully receive reimbursement to the state.

"Our departments were working around the clock, we did have to bring in folks to come help deal with it. We had to rent barricades for example, we had those brought in from a private contractor because we ran out locally," Chamberlain said.

Meanwhile, local residents are eligible to receive assistance through a relief flooding fund set up by local organizations. Leaders are directing people to call 211, to reach the Gryphon Place, a non-profit working to coordinate services for those with immediate flooding damage needs.

"The top needs are people needing new furnaces, water heaters. mold remediation and help cleaning up. It's pretty widespread," Gryphon Place Director of Community Programs Jacob Beach said.

Beach says the agency has made more than 200 referrals for flooding relief services, but admits there's a backlog.

"There's a lot of need right now. We have seen a lot of damage in the community. Even if it might feel frustrating, still dial 211 for services," Beach said.

Meanwhile, Chamberlain said city leaders are looking to redirect a HUD Community Development Block Grant to use for to replace heating equipment in homes damaged by flooding.

"To help households that need new furnaces, hot water heaters, things like that," Chamberlin said.

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