Peters & Stabenow Urge President Biden to Authorize Additional Disaster Assistance Resources for Southeast Michigan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Debbie Stabenow (MI) are calling on President Biden to grant an updated request from Governor Whitmer to provide additional assistance for communities in Southeast Michigan that are still recovering from severe flooding that occurred in late June. President Biden previously approved a Major Disaster declaration for Washtenaw and Wayne Counties, but additional damage assessments have shown that communities in Macomb, Oakland and Ionia Counties also sustained severe losses.

“We commend all the great work of federal, state, and local officials in providing much needed assistance to date,” the Senators wrote in a letter to President Biden. “However, there is still much more work to be done to protect livelihoods and ensure the safety of all those affected by the flood. We urge you to accept the Governor’s request to amend the declaration and provide assistance so these communities can recover from this disaster.”

In late June, severe storms and widespread flooding had devastating impacts on homes and businesses throughout Southeast Michigan. President Biden granted Governor Whitmer’s initial request for a Major Disaster declaration on July 15th, authorizing Individual Assistance for families and small businesses in Washtenaw and Wayne Counties and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to prevent damage that might occur in the future.

Additional assessments have determined that flooding caused severe damages in Washtenaw, Wayne, and Ionia Counties that would trigger support from the Public Assistance (PA) program. The affected counties face $5.3 million in verified debris removal costs and over $5 million in emergency protective measures. The estimated costs for emergency response and repairs to public facilities and infrastructure exceed $120 million. Additionally, more than 1,000 homeowners in Macomb and Oakland Counties have reported significant damage and would benefit from resources made available through the Individual Assistance (IA) program.

Text of the letter is copied below and available here.

September 2, 2021

 Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for your swift approval of Michigan’s Major Disaster declaration for the storms on June 25-26, 2021. We write in support of Governor Whitmer’s request to amend Major Disaster declaration FEMA-4607-DR. The Governor has requested all Individual Assistance (IA) programs be activated for Macomb and Oakland, and all categories of Public Assistance (PA) be activated for Ionia, Washtenaw, and Wayne.

At the time of the initial request, damage assessments for public infrastructure were ongoing, and the full scope of damage was still unclear. Additional Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDAs) have shown that Ionia and Wayne counties have significantly exceeded the $3.89 countywide per-capita indicator threshold for Public Assistance programs. Substantial public damages were also verified in Washtenaw County. Affected counties face $5.3 million in verified debris removal costs and over $5 million in emergency protective measures. The estimated costs for emergency response and repairs to public facilities and infrastructure exceed $120 million. While only a fraction of these costs are eligible for reimbursement, federal assistance is critical to ensuring that this fiscal strain does not negatively impact the availability of government services.

While Wayne and Washtenaw Counties are already eligible for Individual Assistance, significant damage to households has been documented in Macomb and Oakland Counties. The rainfall resulted in flooding and temporary closure of local roads and freeways in both counties. Many local jurisdictions reported localized flooding in residential areas and subdivisions. In total, over 1,000 homes self-reported damage in the two counties, and the true extent of damages is likely much greater. Additionally, demographic indicators show that disaster survivors in affected areas may be particularly vulnerable, including a significant number of people with disabilities, people living below the poverty level, the unemployed, and people living in renter-occupied housing units. Individual Assistance will be critical in assisting these vulnerable households to rebuild their lives and recover from the storms. 

We commend all the great work of federal, state, and local officials in providing much needed assistance to date. However, there is still much more work to be done to protect livelihoods and ensure the safety of all those affected by the flood. We urge you to accept the Governor’s request to amend the declaration and provide assistance so these communities can recover from this disaster. Thank you for your consideration of this request. 

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