WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced that he secured $500 million in funding for communities to help mitigate the impact of natural disasters in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that has passed the Senate. The funding would be used to help states establish revolving loan programs for local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce natural disaster risk, including extreme flooding, shoreline erosion and rising water levels that have put homes, small businesses, property, and communities at risk, and caused millions of dollars in damages. Peters authored the Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act, which was signed into law earlier this year, to create this new loan program.
“Extreme flooding, rising water levels and coastline erosion are destroying lives and livelihoods on the Great Lakes and across Michigan. That is why I was proud to help create a low-cost loan program to help counties and cities save taxpayer dollars, safeguard local homes and small business owners’ properties, and protect our state’s beautiful coastlines,” said Senator Peters. “Funding for this important program will kick-start these loan funds and help communities in Michigan and across the nation access the resources they need to build resiliently and mitigate the effects of natural disasters that continue to worsen due to climate change.”
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. Southeast Michigan recently faced yet another severe flooding event that tragically led to two deaths, damaged small businesses and thousands of homes, and devastated families. The loan program established by the STORM Act will allow 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 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants, these low-interest loans would allow local governments to invest in resiliency and mitigation projects that reduce the effects of shoreline erosion and rising & high water levels, along with other natural disasters. These loans would reach communities more quickly than FEMA’s traditional grants, and provide local communities with the capital necessary to invest in more resilient infrastructure.
Severe storms, extreme flooding, rising water levels and high winds – along with other factors driven by climate change – are contributing to destructive natural disasters. In Michigan, severe flooding and rising coastal water levels have already flooded campgrounds and streets, caused boating problems due to submerged structures, and destroyed beaches, businesses and homes. These disasters often cause long-term economic, social, and environmental effects for states and communities, including deaths, injuries, property destruction, and an increased burden on taxpayers. The funding Peters secured would provide loans to communities facing these hazards to fund such mitigation projects.