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Berkley, Ferndale mayors declare local states of emergency

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published March 17, 2020



OAKLAND COUNTY — Berkley Mayor Dan Terbrack has declared a local state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release from the city March 17, the state of emergency will allow “the mayor, City Council, and city administration to make immediate decisions in the interest of the city’s health, safety, and welfare.”

“City Council and city administration will be making decisions and undertaking necessary and appropriate actions to protect the public health of our city residents and the general public,” the release states. “They will be monitoring the monetary damage caused to businesses and families due to the mandatory closing of businesses and endangerment of health and safety of the residents of the city of Berkley and will further be undertaking measures designed to provide assistance and relief to those affected by the emergency conditions.”

Terbrack told C & G Newspapers that the reason Berkley made this decision was to put itself in the best position possible to take care of residents and employees. 

“Signing that does not mean that we are — the city of Berkley itself — is in a place of desperation right now, but we don’t know what the future holds, and we need to make sure that we’re covering all of our bases to ensure that not only the city continuity continues, but the city continues being able to function. But also, again, we’re protecting our residents and our employees to the best of our abilities.”

The declaration is meant to position the city to be able to receive emergency funds.

“When emergency funding becomes available — whether it’s at the federal level, the state level, the county level — if your city had not officially declared a state of emergency, those funds are not accessible to you,” Terbrack said.

As for how emergency funding would be used and when it might become available to Berkley, the mayor said those are answers he doesn’t know at this time.

“There’s a lot that we don’t know,” he stated. “We haven’t seen a situation like this that I recall, so we need to be proactive in taking every step that we can take now to put ourselves in a better position to continue to flourish in the future.”

A copy of the declaration was addressed to Oakland County Executive David Coulter and Thomas Hardesty, Oakland County Homeland Security division manager.

For the neighboring city of Huntington Woods, Mayor Bob Paul said he would need to gather more information on what a local state of emergency would do, and he noted that it has not yet been discussed.

Ferndale Mayor Melanie Piana announced in a Facebook video the same day that the city would declare a local state of emergency.

“The benefits of declaring a state of emergency are really similar to what we have done in 2014 during the catastrophic floods,” she stated. “Declaring a local state of emergency in the city helps us access state and federal emergency funds if and when they (become) available. The state of emergency also provides (the) city’s emergency services greater access to resources and staffing, ensuring that police and fire departments are well equipped to offer critical response and lifesaving services to our community during a high-needs situation.”

For Pleasant Ridge, City Manager James Breuckman said the city wouldn’t be declaring a state of emergency, as he stated that it was unnecessary for the city to do so.

“Given that the state and the federal government has declared states of emergency, we don’t need to,” he said. “If there’s any funding that ... becomes available, because the state has already done that, then we’re automatically eligible. And from a local governance standpoint, we don’t have any reason to declare a state of emergency. It doesn’t give us any extra powers or abilities that we need.”