Mayor Bernero Explains Why Lansing Hasn't Declared an Emergency Yet

By: Josh Sidorowicz Email
By: Josh Sidorowicz Email

With four Michigan counties--Clinton, Eaton, Barry and Shiawassee--and Delta Township declaring emergencies Friday making them eligible for state aid later on, will Lansing be next?

While meeting and greeting with people who are staying at a Red Cross Shelter at the Trinity Church in South Lansing going on seven days without power, Mayor Virg Bernero addressed critics wondering why the City of Lansing has yet to declare a state of emergency.

"When people talk about why isn't the mayor declaring an emergency, it's an emergency, we've dealt with it as an emergency," he said.

"The question for a declaration of emergency, where you go to the state for help, is if the emergency is beyond your capacity."

Bernero said it's a tipping point the city hasn't reached yet, though it is something constantly being monitored and reassessed.

"I've been in regular contact and I've been on the ground with my chiefs, neither my police chief nor my fire chief felt at any time this was an emergency such that we could not handle it," Bernero said.

For a municipality to declare an emergency, the recovery efforts must be beyond the ability of a local government, according to Michigan's Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

Bernero said estimates to clean up damages across the city range between $250,000 and $350,000, which doesn't put the city in a position to qualify for state aid.

Beyond that, Bernero contends declaring an emergency would not do much of anything to help restore power more quickly.

"We'd all love (restoration) to be sped up, the problem is, an emergency declaration really wouldn't affect that," he said. "There are not linemen working for the state waiting to come in here."

It's a sentiment echoed by Governor Snyder's office, which has been criticized for not stepping in yet.

"It's a matter of the utility companies restoring power and not so much an issue of widespread damage or destruction," said Dave Murray, deputy press secretary to the governor.

The state hasn't stepped in yet because there haven't been any formal requests for state assistance, according to Murray.

"These are local issues first and foremost, and we're not really surprised at the lack of requests because local groups have been doing really well on their own," Murray said.

"But as of right now there isn't a need to declare a statewide emergency because the perception it will automatically fix things isn't necessarily true."

Though Murray added Snyder's office is prepared to assist with aid if necessary.


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