A state of emergency declaration has been expanded to include more southeastern Michigan counties impacted by major flooding and tornadoes.
On Thursday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer expanded a state of emergency declaration to include Huron, Ionia and Washtenaw counties, each of which have experienced damage caused by extreme weather events.
On June 26, Whitmer issued a state of emergency declaration for Wayne County as heavy rains hammered the region. About 5-7 inches of rain fell across Metro Detroit that weekend, causing widespread power outages and subsequent pump station failures, which helped contribute to significant flooding along roadways and in and around homes.
Washtenaw County was included Thursday in Whitmer’s emergency declaration following local damage assessments, officials said. Like Wayne County, Washtenaw has also experienced significant damage due to the flooding.
Washtenaw County issued its own state of emergency declaration on July 2 following the severe weather. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners said public infrastructure, like streets and sidewalks, had been damaged as the result of overwhelmed sewer and stormwater systems.
Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) visited Wayne County on Thursday to assess flood damage following a request from Whitmer. The agency could recommend that President Joe Biden declare a disaster, which would free up federal funds for flooding response and relief efforts.
Whitmer added Huron and Ionia counties to the emergency declaration Thursday not due to flooding damage, but rather because of tornado damage.
“The residents of these three counties have suffered significant hardship due to the recent severe weather,” Whitmer said. “Adding the counties to the declaration commits available state resources to help the communities as they rebuild and recover.”
The National Weather Service confirmed last week that a tornado touched down in Michigan’s northern Huron County on the night of June 26.
According to the NWS, the tornado was 400 yards wide and had winds reaching 120 mph, impacting parts of Port Austin.
A tornado touched down in Ionia County that same day, causing damage to structures.
Huron and Ionia counties also reportedly issued their own emergency declarations amid the severe weather.
Officials say that the expanded emergency declaration will enable the state to make resources available to aid with response and recovery efforts.