President Joe Biden on Thursday formally declared a disaster in the state of Michigan following a major flooding event in June, freeing up federal funds to assist with recovery and relief efforts.
Biden approved a disaster declaration following a request from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who issued a state of emergency for several counties impacted by severe storms, subsequent flooding and tornadoes that occurred the last weekend in June.
“President Joe Biden delivered great news to the people of Detroit and southeast Michigan. We are really pleased the presidential disaster declaration for the June 25-26 flooding was issued in half the time of the August 2014 declaration, allowing Detroiters to get help much more quickly,” said mayor Mike Duggan. “I want to thank Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan State Police Emergency Management & Homeland Security for responding quickly and working with the City of Detroit to prepare for the declaration. I also want to thank FEMA Region 5 Manager Kevin Sligh, Sr. who has been hands-on from the beginning.”
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“President Biden’s declaration opens up critical resources to help Michigan residents recover from this disaster,” Whitmer said Thursday. “The flooding on June 25-26 had devastating impacts on Wayne and Washtenaw County residents who suffered damage to their homes, loss of personal property, and faced unimaginable stress. With the resources we will receive thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we will put Michiganders first and help our communities recover and rebuild.”
“Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster,” a White House press release reads Thursday.
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.
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On July 8, Washtenaw County was included 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 July 8 to assess flood damage following a request from Whitmer. The hope was that the agency would recommend that Biden declare a disaster to free up funding for response efforts.
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Whitmer added Huron and Ionia counties to the emergency declaration last week 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 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.
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The news comes as more severe storms are expected to hit the region this weekend, raising concerns for potential flooding Friday into Saturday.
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Residents and business owners who suffered damages can apply for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362.