Senator Tom Casperson called a teleconference between Newberry and Lansing to push Senate Resolution 158 which urges President Obama to declare the areas affected by the Duck Lake Wildfire a disaster area and, therefore, offer federal assistance.
Attendees watched the TV as the decision was made: "Mr. Chair, you have six yays and zero nays. Motion passes."
Now the resolution moves on to the federal level where the president will determine if assistance will be sent to those affected.
"The real reason for setting this meeting up today was to get people in here...the DNR speaking with their expertise, and then the people in the community most directly affected by what's happened here to bring that impact to help that resolution get carried along," said Dale McNamee, field aid to Senator Casperson.
To make sure the State Senate understood the plight of those affected by the Duck Lake Wildfire, some members of the community offered firsthand testimonies of their situations. Some were inspirational, recounting the hard work and success of fire crews.
"I have a picture of this man kissing his home. He was so grateful to the firefighters," said Mary Archambeau, Director of the Duck Lake Help Center:
Others were heartbreaking. "We were surrounded by state forest land, and now all we see are charred tree trunks," said Kathy Robinson, owner of the Rainbow Lodge.
In light of such recent hardships, many are trying to look on the bright side. The Senate was sympathetic and willing to listen to all questions and concerns.
"I think this is a good meeting, and I'm glad that they had it. I'm glad people got to say what they felt and what was in their hearts and that the Senate got to hear it. I think that's very important. That keeps us in touch as one-on-one," Archambeau said.
With that positive attitude, Luce County residents hope their optimism carries to the federal level. In the meantime, they return to their homes and await the response.
The Duck Lake Wildfire is currently the third largest wildfire in modern Michigan history, having burned just over 21,000 acres. But it is now 100 percent contained and has cost more than $3.8 million. For more information, visit the DNR website.