DETROIT, Mich. — Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday returned to suburban Detroit to survey flood damage, joining volunteers to help remove water-logged carpet and furniture from people’s homes.
The visit was the governor’s second since Monday’s record-setting rainfall deluged highways, led to two deaths and prompted him to issue a state disaster declaration. His staff tweeted photos of Snyder helping to carry furniture down a Royal Oak driveway, a day after Democratic gubernatorial opponent Mark Schauer was in the same suburb also assisting with the cleanup.
Snyder also visited Macomb County’s emergency response center and thanked volunteers. He had interrupted an official multi-day trip in the Upper Peninsula on Tuesday to fly over flooded metropolitan Detroit in a State Police helicopter before briefing reporters.
The Republican came under criticism from Democrats, including Schauer, as out of touch for a Wednesday radio interview in which he mentioned his vacation home had recently sustained water damage when a tree limb fell on the roof.
“I’ve been there myself,” Snyder said when WJR host Frank Beckmann asked what he should do about wet carpet in his basement. Beckmann responded that people might think the governor is just a successful “rich nerd” who had never been impacted by flooding.
Snyder said the branch ripped holes in his lake house roof, allowing water to run through. “Those experiences are not pleasant ones,” he said.
Republicans, in turn, accused Schauer of playing politics with a natural disaster in which people died by demanding an emergency declaration while campaigning on the other side of the state — and trying to claim credit for Snyder’s expected move — without seeing the damage firsthand.
State GOP Chairman Bobby Schostak on Wednesday criticized Schauer for “shooting from the hip on an emergency situation, showing zero leadership at a time of crisis.”
The Schauer campaign said he did not act prematurely because Snyder did indeed issue the emergency declaration in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
Officials in Oakland County on Friday estimated flood damage at $337 million but warned the amount could increase as more assessments are received. Communities are trying to determine how much the final costs will be after more than 6 inches of rain fell in some areas.
Snyder’s disaster declaration lets Michigan seek federal help and frees up state resources for communities hit hard by flooding.