You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Dexter tornado aftermath: State Rep. Mark Ouimet working on bill to reimburse community costs

By Cindy Heflin


A toilet is visible as a backhoe demolishes a bathroom in the Huron Farms subdivision in Dexter Monday.

Melanie Maxwell |

Local government agencies in Washtenaw County could get some help from the state covering Dexter tornado relief efforts if a bill Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, is trying to develop becomes law.

Ouimet is working on writing a bill that, if passed, would provide some state assistance to cover overtime and other costs for police, fire and public works employees, as well as any infrastructure costs incurred by local governments during disasters.

Thumbnail image for Mark_Ouimet_headshot_2012.jpg

Mark Ouimet

The total costs for the emergency response to the tornado that swept through Dexter Thursday evening, destroying at least 20 homes and damaging more than 200, are unknown, said Marc Breckenridge, Washtenaw County Emergency director of emergency management, but it involves hundreds of man hours. He said the county won’t likely total up the costs unless the bill passes and money becomes available.

Ouimet said he’s researching where the state might find money to reimburse such costs. “We want to make sure that there is a source of funding that’s always there,” he said.

Ouimet also is looking into how severely damaged or destroyed homes will be assessed for property taxes. It’s not clear, he said, how assessors would value a home that, for example, was destroyed except for the basement and has yet to be rebuilt. He’s looking at how other communities have dealt with similar situations

“How has it been dealt with and if it hasn’t we need to look at ways of improving on it,” he said.

One thing there is no money for is uninsured losses on private property, both Ouimet and Breckenridge said. There’s currently no accurate estimate of private property losses, Breckenridge said. An initial estimate released last week put the figure at more than $3 million, but Breckenridge said that number is not accurate. The county said more than 200 homes were damaged and at least 20 destroyed.

Ouimet didn’t know when any bill might be ready, but said he’s expediting his research.

“I know firsthand how challenging this is for the homeowners and the first responders and the community, and we’re working on this as fast as we can."



Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

@ tdw: Re: Mr. Ouimet getting "slamed (sic) because he has a R in front of his name." Please note that it was nickcarraweigh, in the very first post in this thread, who brought up Mr. Ouimet's party affiliation, and "slamed" him about it -- (RINO = Republican In Name Only). A few others of us have agreed that Mr. Ouimet is not acting like a true Republican right now, but unlike nickcarraweigh, we are not complaining. Myself, I was writing to COMPLIMENT Mr. Ouimet for that, and I couldn't disagree with nickcarraweigh more! Times like these, when people are in need, are times when "Big Government" can actually shine. Police, Fire, Emergency personnel -- all are needed. Big cleanups cost big money, and lap over property lines. A holistic approach is needed, and that is what is going on in Dexter right now. All is as it should be -- Mr. Ouimet was right in breaking with the ideology espoused by nickcarraweigh and so many others. So it is important both to praise him for his bravery in doing this, and also to underscore how inappropriate and unworkable that party-line ideology is, especially in times like these.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Most people think sending money to Dexter is a good thing. I haven't heard anybody say different. What a lot of people are noticing is that Republicans think sending money to their own towns is a good idea -- but sending money to other people's towns is a bad idea. That hypocrisy sticks in the craw. Hence the remarks about Jindel, the state of Alabama. Kansas, one of the most vociferous "government is bad" states, has been accepting a lot of federal help recently. But do you think it will change their viewpoints? Probably not. As soon as their own personal crisis has passed, it will be back to "govt is bad" and "the needy should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps". That's the issue here, not whether or not Dexter deserves help.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

WOW.....only in Ann Arbor, when a person does something good he still gets slamed because he has a R in front of his name.Ann Arbor lives in it's own little bubble


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

I really don't want to get into a huge debate, I am FOR what Ouimet is doing. But some examples of why this is considered hypocritical: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group. There was $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project -- all intended to benefit Palin's town, Wasilla, located about 45 miles north of Anchorage., Sept 2008 That is fine to do, but then don't go out and complain about federal debt and government spending!


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

So, you admit that your only "proof" of residency is your belief that A2 people are whiney. That is kind of sad. My take is that the "whiniest" people on this website tend toward the "conservative" side. And yes, my point is that Ouimet is a hypocrite. He is being singled out for going against what the GOP says it is about, until it comes to their constituency. For example, Sarah Palin whines about federal spending, but when she was governor her state had the highest per capita federal clawbacks of any state. Mr Santorum says he is proud of his earmark record. When John Dingell does this the Whiners show up in droves to complain about it.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

Clownfish.....I just assume it's A2 people they are the whinest people around.The second part of your reply just proves my point.He's getting slammed ONLY because he's a Republican, you just said it


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

How do you know where the posters live? He is getting slammed for doing the opposite of what the GOP has said it stands for. HMSP is spot on with his comments. GOP candidates stand up and tell us Big Govt is THE problem and Other People should not have to pony up cash to support their neighbors, then, when disaster strikes they put their hand out for cash. Rep Oiumets idea is a good one, but it flies in the face of what the 21st century GOP says it is about.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.

Ouimet said he's researching where the state might find money to reimburse such costs. "We want to make sure that there is a source of funding that's always there," he said. Wow! How about reimbursing communities for the full costs of providing fiure services for the Universities and Prisons and Got'v faciclites in their areas? Looks like Mark is interested when a disaster occurs, but let the devil take the hindmost the rest of the year. Mark is no compassionate conservative.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 11:05 a.m.

The insensitivity & ignorance of those not involved in the Dexter tornado is very pathetic. Some on here are taking shots at Mark for doing whats right. My wife and i lost our home Thursday and Mark stopped by 3 days in a row offering his support in anyway! I had also seen Mark walking house to house & 1 end of the sub to the other all of those days. For those of you who feel like this is a great place to take shots at a man trying to help my devastated community, i hope you slept really well under your OWN ROOF last night!


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 10:50 a.m.

I would think setting up a IRS501c3 organization to accept donations would be a better use of his time. Probably would return a better investment for the dollar.

Barbara Read

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Mark Ouimet attended the Dexter Board of Education meeting Monday night and shared some of what he's been doing and what he's observed while visiting the Dexter area. You can watch the meeting here and see Mark address the school board by skipping to marker 1:52:09. Dexter is a wonderful place to live.

Susie Q

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

Mark is really good at attending meetings.


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:39 a.m.

@Susie Q: Maybe I was bending too far over backwards in my attempt to be diplomatic, since the last thing I'd want to do is discourage Mr. Ouimet's current rational, compassionate behavior. No, I don't like his voting record any more than you do, but if a tornado is what it takes for him to say, "Where's FDR when we need him!" then I'll take it!

Susie Q

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 2:29 a.m.

You are kind, hmsp. Mr Ouimet has not been kind to the middle class (or lower). Dexter has suffered an enormous loss and many folks have stepped up to help, but my impression is that Mr Ouimet has a political agenda to pursue, that is at odds with his public profession of compassion. He takes advantage of a disaster to further his ambition. We have seen his real agenda. In any event, I am glad that he has offered to assist the victims of the recent disaster. I suspect this new-found compassion will not last.

Michigan Man

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:31 a.m.

Mark getting it done for the fine residents of Dexter! Those who know and have know Mark for years, as a community leader for decades, knew this is exactly what Mark would do. No surprise here! Excellent work. Not sure why so many people/readers are pissed off that Mark is trying to help the folks out?

Susie Q

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:16 a.m.

Mr Ouimet has not been very caring of lots of folks among his constituency. He has signed on to every right wing bill that has been proposed. There is no money for schools, higher education, mental health, etc; but he'll try to make "political hay" out of this disaster in Dexter. Let's send him back to Bank of Ann Arbor or the Washtenaw County Commission where he can collect extra money for attending meetings.

Kai Petainen

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

I don't know anything about him politically, but this sounds like a good gesture and the 'right thing to do' for Dexter...


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:11 a.m.

Ouimet: this is about votes in the next election, not compassion. Thanks for the free plug for him. Will it count as an in-kind campaign contribution?


Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

Thank you for your caring efforts, Representative Ouimet.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 11:43 p.m.

Really? You focus on the person requesting rather than the request? Keep your comments on point. Do you think Dexter deserves this resource? Please use normal language for those of us who want to weigh in on the issue rather than be impressed with the pious subterfuge used to respond to this article. .


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

@nickcarraweigh: It's true that Mr. Ouimet is hardly a rabid conservative. But it's also true that even the most rabid "live-free-or-die" tax rebels tend to get a different kind of religion as soon as disaster strikes! Louisiana's Gov. Bobby Jindal is a classic case in point, having gone from, "Get government off our backs," to sticking his hand out and demanding help, after Katrina. Few people had a problem with that -- I certainly did not -- but it would be nice if those same anti-tax conservatives had slightly longer memories. Mr. Ouimet is a decent man, and I don't want anyone to think that I would lump him in with anti-government folk like "Mark From Michigan" -- I don't -- but since the tornado went through right around where anti-government Mark (who happily spent years on the government payroll, BTW) lives, that gets me thinking about him. I wonder whether he, too, is currently eager to get even more public monies than he already has. Yep, lots of folks out there who, when the time comes, ask, "Where's FDR when we need him!"

Susie Q

Thu, Mar 22, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

Yes, Mr Ouimet has proven himself to be a rabid conservative over the past 14 months. He has voted for every Republican measure proposed, as far as I can tell....eliminating domestic partner benefits, for right-to -work legislation, etc. He has proven himself to be an enemy of the middle class and will vote for everything that the far-right folks in Lansing propose. When he was a county commissioner, he did not appear as conservative as he does now; although he did collect a lot of extra money for attending meetings.


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

Why does all money have to take a circuitous route up to some higher governmental entity and then clawed back by municipality when something like this happens? Could we just have a system where community money stays in the local community so that it is available for stuff like this without having to be cycled through some higher bureaucracy (after siphoning off some percentage)?


Wed, Mar 21, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

It's now clear the public persona Rep. Ouimet fashioned on the Washtenaw Board was merely a pious subterfuge, intended to mask his inherent reliance on Big Government. He is revealed as a RINO. I wonder if he intends secretly to donate his travel reimbursement and meeting attendance checks to Obama's 2012 campaign?