Michigan Gov. Whitmer: FEMA request for expedited damage assessment of Gaylord tornado approved

Expedited assessment could mean federal funding for Gaylord cleanup is within reach

(Angela Russ via AP) (Angela Russ)

GAYLORD, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday, May 24 that her request for an Expedited Damage Assessment was granted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency following the tornado in Otsego county.

On May 22, the request for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to participate in Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) for Individual Assistance (IA) was made. Based on the photos of the damage and local feedback, the Governor Whitmer, Michigan State Police, and the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD), felt that the damages warranted a joint FEMA/EMHSD Preliminary Damage Assessment. The hope was to conduct the PDA starting on Wednesday, May 25.

FEMA has granted her request for a joint PDA with state and local officials to help expedite review of the damages and response costs. The PDA is the next step in the process of asking for federal assistance.

Whitmer says, “This assessment is a critical step in seeking federal aid for Otsego County by confirming the reported damage caused by Friday’s tornado. We are expediting the damage assessment process to ensure we receive all possible assistance for the people of Gaylord, as quickly as possible. Michiganders are tough, and together, we will do what it takes to rebuild.” 

On Friday, May 20th at 3:38 pm the city of Gaylord was rocked by an EF-3 tornado. The tornado reached winds as high as 150 mph and was on the ground for nearly 20 minutes. Governor Gretchen Whitmer was quick to declare a state of emergency. By doing so, Governor Whitmer made all state resources available in cooperation with the local response and recovery teams in the area. The tornado left two people deceased and 44 people injured. Otsego county is still cleaning up the extensive damage to businesses and homes.

The aftermath of the tornado has been devastating for the people of Gaylord. PDA teams are expected to begin gathering information in the affected communities Wednesday, May 24. As they collect estimated response and recovery costs, they will be focusing on the number of damaged buildings, extent of insurance coverage, displaced individuals, and threats to health and safety.

This assessment is the next part in the process that could lead to the state requesting a federal disaster declaration which would mean additional funding from the federal government.

More on the Gaylord tornado:

About the Author:

Morgan is a Digital Editor and has been with WDIV since May of this year. She is also studying political science and communications at Wayne State University.