FEMA’s definition of disaster is, “a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources.” Everyone experience during and after a disaster is unique. I like to say that some disasters are small such as someone’s losing a vehicle to theft or an accident or someone loses their home to fire. While this is a disaster to the individual it doesn’t fit FEMA’s definition.
The March 2017 wind storms knocked out power to over 1 million people in the Southeast Michigan region, causing may cities to open warming and charging stations. The State Emergency Operations Center was activated in the aftermath of this event, but even with the widespread damage, a state Disaster Declaration wasn’t necessary.
On Monday, August 11, A historic rainfall event unfolded over Southeast Michigan which led to significant flooding and major road closures. The August 2014 Severe weather event dropped 5 inches of rain water quickly, causing over 10 billion gallons of sewage to overflow into local streets and eventually into local water ways. The damage was over $1 billion dollars. Gov. Snyder declared an official state of emergency for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties on August 13, 2014. President Barack Obama issued a disaster declaration for the state of Michigan on September 25, 2014 which opened up streams of federal funding that was vital to households, businesses and government bodies.
The county, state, and federal government has resources available to help during a disaster, and there is a process that must be followed. In every step, the need for resources must be more that can be provided. However, at no point does the lowest possible jurisdictional level ever get relieved from their responsibly of managing the response. The National Response Framework states, “Incidents must be managed at the lowest possible jurisdictional level and supported by additional capabilities when needed.”