Oakland CO Tornado Damage Prompts Disaster Declaration Request

Pontiac, MI - With hundreds of damaged homes and businesses and countless trees down after a tornado touched down in White Lake Township Saturday evening, Oakland County Executive David Coulter is asking the state to support a request for a “state of disaster” declaration in the northwest Oakland County community.

The request includes assistance with debris removal, repair of damages caused by wind or flooding, repair or replacement of damaged equipment and reimbursement for over-time costs for first responders and other employees involved in clean-up activities.

The F-1 tornado touched down west of Teggerdine and Pontiac Lake Road at 7:54 p.m. Saturday and moved northeast with winds reaching 100 miles per hour. The twister’s path was 1.8 miles long and 400 yards wide, according to the National Weather Service. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries or deaths related to the violent storm. But 425 homes were affected, including 31 with major damage, and 70,000 Oakland County residents were left without power.

White Lake Township Supervisor Rik Kowall sent a request for a state of disaster declaration to the state on Sunday. “The residents of White Lake have experienced what is hopefully, a once in a lifetime event and they have persevered. We are thankful that there was no loss of life and it was great to see so many people come together to help each other. As I worked with the first responders on clearing roads until the early hours of Sunday morning, it was not unusual for random individuals to stop and assist us,” Kowall said. “Sunday daybreak brought to light the full devastation of the tornado. Now several days later, the residents of White Lake continue to help each other move forward. I am extremely proud of all our first responders and our resident’s resilience and sense of community.”

Coulter’s letter to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which was sent on Thursday, supports White Lake’s request, and also asks that consideration be given to forwarding any state declaration to the federal government for additional federal assistance.

“These natural disasters put tremendous strains, not only on families and businesses in communities, but also on local budgets. So any assistance we can get from our partners in the state and federal government is especially helpful,” Coulter said.

“White Lake Township residents are experiencing the beginnings of the recovery process,” added Thom Hardesty, Director of Oakland County Emergency Management and Homeland Security. “We have completed preliminary damage assessments so that we can get qualified residents the support they want and need.”

A disaster declaration helps free up state and federal assistance to provide resources and reimburse expenses incurred by the township in their efforts to clean up after a storm.

The last time a tornado touched down in Oakland County was on September 21, 2014 when a F-1 tornado landed in Rochester Hills.

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