GRAND LEDGE — During a major August storm that swept tornados across Michigan, Timothy Hillock felt the pressure drop and heard the "train" sounds that often come with devastating wind.
That's when his housemate told him to watch out. He crouched down a bit inside his living room as a large tree crashed through his roof, hitting him on the head and driving him to the floor.
"I'm lucky to be alive," Hillock said.
Federal and state disaster officials visited Hillock's home in Grand Ledge Ravines on Tuesday, in additional to several sites in Eaton County and elsewhere in mid-Michigan, as they sought to determine whether the storms Thursday, Aug. 24, caused enough damage to warrant federal disaster intervention.
There are currently nine ongoing federal disasters, including flooding or severe storms in Alaska, California, Illinois, Mississippi and Vermont, plus the Hawaii wildfires and Hurricane Idalia.
The formula for certifying a federal disaster is complicated, weighing the cost of the damage and the effect on the community, among other factors, said Lauren Thompson-Phillips, a spokesperson for the Michigan State Police and its Emergency Management Division, which assists federal officials.
The damage tallies aren't yet available, but significant damage in counties like Livingston and Ingham could likely drive much of the end result, she said.
If the damage qualifies for a federal disaster declaration, it could mean additional dollars, including reimbursements, for debris removal and other emergency acts. Disasters can qualify for a range of federal support, including payments to individuals and local governments, Lauren Thompson-Phillips said.
The local assessment work will continue this week. In all, eight counties will be checked by officials: Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne.
As state and FEMA officials took photos of his house and asked him to fill out a brief question form, Hillock was seeing the brighter future. His insurance policy is covering his repairs, and he feels he's come out stronger.
"I've got some things left to do," Hillock said. "I'm blessed."
— Contact Mike Ellis at email@example.com or 517-267-0415
This article originally appeared on Lansing State Journal: 'I'm lucky to be alive': FEMA officials assess August storm damage