WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell to announce a new funding opportunity for a program to help states establish low cost revolving loan funds for local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce natural disaster risk. Peters authored the Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act, which was signed into law last year, to create this new program. He also secured $500 million in the bipartisan infrastructure law to provide the first funding for the program. Peters joined Criswell at FEMA Headquarters to announce how states and localities can access these funds once the application period opens.
“Coastal erosion and extreme weather events, including floods continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of communities in Michigan and across the nation. My STORM Act program, and the funding that I secured for it in bipartisan infrastructure law, will provide resources through state funds to local communities so they can invest in disaster-resilient infrastructure like seawalls, breakers, and barriers,” said Senator Peters. “Today’s announcement paves the way for states to be able access these critical federal funds and I’m grateful to Administrator Criswell and FEMA for getting this important program off the ground so quickly. I’ll also continue working to ensure Michigan communities can access these funds as soon as possible.”
“FEMA remains committed to finding innovative approaches to help communities build resilience in the face of intensifying weather events driven by climate change,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “The low-interest loans provided by the STORM program will help eligible states and tribes, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, finance disaster mitigation projects that will enhance their climate resiliency before disaster strikes. I am grateful to the Chairman Peters for his leadership in creating this critical program, and helping to bring the importance of hazard mitigation to the national forefront.”
Severe storms, extreme flooding, rising water levels and high winds – exacerbated by climate change – are causing more destructive and costly natural disasters than ever before. Communities in Michigan and across the country are facing serious flooding, coastal erosion and high water level challenges that have destroyed homes and beaches and have even forced residents to relocate. The program established by his STORM Act, and the funding that Peters secured for it, allows local governments to access critical funds to help mitigate the impact of natural disasters in a more cost-effective way. Studies have shown that resilience and mitigation spending saves taxpayers an average of $6 for every $1 invested.
Unlike existing FEMA grants, these low-interest loans will allow local governments to invest in resiliency and mitigation projects that reduce the effects of rising and high water levels, along with other natural disasters. These loans will reach communities more quickly than FEMA’s traditional grants, and provide local communities with the capital necessary to invest in more resilient infrastructure. Today’s announcement comes after Peters encouraged Criswell and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to quickly set up the STORM Act program.
During the visit to FEMA Headquarters, Peters also met with FEMA employees from Michigan and FEMA Reservists – the temporary, on-call and intermittent employees who are essential to the agency’s mission to quickly respond to disasters. The President recently signed into law Peters’ bill to protect these essential employees from losing their full-time employment when they are called up to assist communities with disaster response.
As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led several efforts to strengthen our federal disaster preparedness and response. He convened a hearing with disaster preparedness and response experts to hear how worsening natural disasters, including flooding, severe storms, and wildfires, continue to threaten communities in Michigan and across the nation. His bill to strengthen federal disaster response for minority, rural, low-income, and disabled communities has also advanced in the Senate.