Emergency response to storms criticized




FLINT TWP. — It’s tough living without power for nearly a week. It’s tough trying to drive on unplowed streets covered with nearly 18 inches of snow for several days.

Hardships created by a recent spate of harsh winter weather has a lot of people questioning how recovery efforts were handled by Consumers Energy, the Genesee County Road Commission and other emergency responders.

Two township residents are questioning the slow response efforts to the Dec. 22 ice storm and a Jan. 6 snow storm — two of the worst on record.

Speaking during public comment, residents Kevin Stiff and Jim McClung complained about problems they experienced.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said that for the most part township streets were cleared within two days after the big snowstorm.

Stiff said no, his street was a “two-track” for four days after the snow storm.

“Our road is still terrible,” he said. “Whoever cleaned it did not do a decent job.”

McClung, who also lost power for four days during Christmas, said he was glad he had time to cool off after the storms.

“I’ve never been so ticked in my life at the road commission as I have been these past few weeks,’’ McClung said. “They did a horrible job. I realize it was extreme conditions.”

Some roads still are in bad shape, he said, citing icy turn lanes.

During the power outage, McClung said the traffic light at Graham and Corunna Road was out for four days and traffic backed up for miles. No one put up temporary stop signs at intersections, as they have in the past, he said.

What would happen in the event of an even worse storm?, he asked. He recalled past discussions about putting a township disaster team in place.

MIller said the township has a emergency management plan, as required by law, but defers to the county’s emergency management team that is run by the sheriff’s office.

Stiff said the question is not what the county has in place but what if any response team the township has in place.

Miller and township trustee George Menoutes both praised the Genesee County Road Commission for getting the roads back open quickly.

Trustee Barb Vert disagreed. She said her street was among those overlooked.

“”It was an extremely poor job for me and my neighbors,’’ she said. She asked who notifies the road commission about bad road conditions.

Chief George Sippert said his officers will notify the road commission when they come across bad conditions such as on overpasses. But the road commission was generally not taking calls during the cold snap because problems were so extensive, he said.

Vert criticized the slow response to putting down dirt at ice-covered intersections during the deep freeze when salt was not working. She said another slow response to salting icy roads caused problems earlier this week on the morning of Jan. 20.

Miller said she was not sure who in the township reports bad roads but that Vert could take the initiative herself to directly contact the road commission garage to report problem areas.

Miller also said the township’s website has a link to the road commission website that has a downloadable complaint form residents can use.


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