- Associated Press - Thursday, April 17, 2014

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder on Thursday declared a state of emergency for Marquette County following widespread, severe damage to water and sewer lines caused by this winter’s extreme cold.

With the declaration, Michigan will make its resources available in cooperation with local efforts in the Upper Peninsula county. Snyder also separately declared a state of disaster in Newago and Osceola counties located halfway between Grand Rapids and Traverse City. The counties have been hit with severe storms since Saturday.

Marquette County earlier this year requested an emergency declaration, saying that there already was more than $1.6 million in damage. Snyder said in a statement that the county’s water and sewer infrastructure has been severely hurt by the weather.

“I admire the public works personnel who have been working around the clock thawing and repairing water and sewer mains. They are the heroes in this situation,” he said.

The Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division will coordinate the state’s efforts with Marquette County.

State officials said the county’s deep frost levels also have hurt fire hydrants and public roads, compromising public health and safety due to delayed fire suppression and emergency vehicle response and reduced capacity to treat wastewater.

“As temperatures warm and the ground thaws, we expect this situation to worsen before it gets better,” said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, deputy state director of emergency management and homeland security.

Snyder’s declarations came as parts of Michigan grappled with flooding.

Floodwaters are receding along rivers in the central and western Lower Peninsula, a trend that should continue with mostly dry weather in the forecast for the next several days.

The most severe problem has been in Osceola County around Evart, where the National Weather Service reports that the Muskegon River remains at major flood stage. It had dropped from a record 15.97 feet to 15.6 feet as of late Thursday morning.

The Muskegon also had dropped from a high of 13.1 feet Tuesday to 11.97 feet Thursday at the Croton Dam about 35 miles north of Grand Rapids, which puts that area at moderate flood stage.

Michigan rivers with minor flooding are the Chippewa below Mount Pleasant, the Pere Marquette at Scottville and the Saginaw River at Saginaw.

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