WASHINGTON, D.C. – A $500 million provision secured by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to help mitigate the impact of natural disasters has passed the House of Representatives as a part of a bipartisan bill that would significantly upgrade our nation’s infrastructure. The legislation passed the Senate in August and now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. This is the first time funding has been secured for the program created by Peters to help states establish revolving loan funds for local governments to carry out mitigation projects that reduce natural disaster risk. These projects could include upgrades to address 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.
“Climate change is causing communities across Michigan and our nation to experience an increase in the frequency and intensity of severe weather events. The loan program I created, along with this critical funding I secured, will help our communities tackle this rising threat by giving local governments the resources to upgrade their infrastructure and help reduce natural disaster risk,” said Senator Peters. “I look forward to seeing the President sign this important provision into law so we can make our infrastructure more resilient, protect our communities from natural disasters, and save taxpayers money in the long run.”
Severe storms, extreme flooding, rising water levels and high winds – along with other factors driven by climate change – are contributing to increasingly frequent and destructive natural disasters. 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 faced yet another severe flooding event this summer that tragically led to two deaths, damaged small businesses and thousands of homes, and devastated families. The funding Peters secured for the loan program established by his STORM Act will allow local governments to access critical funds to build more resilient infrastructure and 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 and 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.