DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, applauded an announcement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on their intent to issue a funding opportunity to help states establish low cost 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. FEMA’s announcement is an important step in the ongoing progress to ensure that states will soon be able to apply for grants to begin establishing low-cost loan programs. Local communities will be able to use the loans to build resilient infrastructure that can withstand coastal erosion, rising water levels, severe flooding, and other extreme weather events.
“Natural disasters in Michigan and across the nation continue destroying homes, forcing small businesses to shut their doors, and causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage. That is why I created this program to help states establish low-cost revolving loan funds that will allow local communities to invest in projects like seawalls and stormwater drains that mitigate damage from extreme weather events,” said Senator Peters. “This announcement is a significant step to ensuring communities can begin accessing these critical funds. As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I’ll continue my efforts to ensure this program is implemented as soon as possible so we can improve our nation’s resilience.”
“Supporting local communities in their fight against climate change requires a multi-pronged approach,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “FEMA’s revolving loans join a suite of other hazard mitigation grant programs and serve as a unique tool our partners can use in their pursuit of building climate resilience.”
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 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 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. The announcement of FEMA’s intent to fund the program comes after Peters encouraged FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to quickly set up the STORM Act program.
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 lives and livelihoods in Michigan and across the nation. Peters’ bipartisan legislation to protect FEMA Reservists from losing their full-time employment when they are called up to assist communities with disaster response has advanced in the Senate. His bill to strengthen federal disaster response for minority, rural and disabled communities has also advanced in the Senate.