Rep. Dianda Calls on Governor to Act on Frozen Water Lines Crisis

Lawmaker says state of emergency needed to get help to residents
Friday, March 21, 2014

LANSING - State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) again called on Gov. Rick Snyder today act quickly to declare a state of emergency in the U.P. to help with the frozen water lines crisis plaguing residents across the region. Due to the extreme cold weather, water lines in many communities are frozen and many have also broken. Municipalities are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars over their budgets just on repairs and to keep a basic safe level of service for their residents. Many residents are on “let-run” orders to keep open lines that haven’t already frozen. Other residents have gone without water in their homes for days and weeks.

“Last night I was passing through Ishpeming at 2 am on my way back home from Lansing, and I saw utility workers out there thawing the pipes,” said Dianda. “Thank god these wonderful folks are out there working 24-7 to try to keep the water running for our citizens. These individuals and the municipalities are doing everything they possibly can, but they are working against the clock and using funds that were budgeted for other essential services. They need your help, Governor Snyder.”

Gov. Snyder recently refused to declare a state of emergency. Instead he ordered the state’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division of the Michigan State Police to offer assistance. He said that the problem was a problem for residents because residential waterlines are freezing and breaking. Municipalities point out, however that the water lines are breaking away from residences and in the right of way, so it is up to them to fix them. Either way, residents are suffering greatly because of a natural disaster - the extreme cold weather -which is not entirely different than, say, a tornado devastating a Lower Peninsula community and a state of emergency being declared to help those victims.

“I visited Republic last week to meet with the supervisor, and he told me about an elderly widow in that community who must leave her house every day to shower at another location,” said Dianda. “This has become the norm for many folks who are struggling through the end of this long winter, and it is unacceptable. Governor, I call on you to do what is right for your constituents of the Upper Peninsula: recognize the urgency of this situation and declare a state of emergency!”

It may be well into late April or May before the weather warms enough to alleviate the situation.

“Declaring a state of emergency opens to door for help from our partners at the federal level,” said Dianda. “I’m looking forward to working with the governor and our congressman, Dan Benishek, to make sure our people get the emergency assistance they need.”