Biden approves federal disaster aid for 9 Michigan counties affected by August storms, tornadoes ⋆

Federal financial aid is on the way for Michiganders in nine counties impacted by severe storms and multiple tornadoes last August.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden approved Michigan’s request for a disaster declaration in Eaton, Ingham, Ionia, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, and Wayne counties impacted by severe storms, tornadoes and flooding from Aug. 24 to 26, 2023.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the declaration opens the path to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Individual Assistance (IA) for affected residents.

“Michiganders have been working hard to recover from the tornadoes and storms that caused so much damage across the state this summer,” said Whitmer. “With [Thursday’s] federal disaster declaration by President Biden, we will get the resources we need to support impacted families, businesses, and communities. Michiganders are tough. We will get through this the way we always have — together.” 

This FEMA 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. Federal funding will also now be available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide. 

The stormfront began with severe thunderstorms early on the morning of Aug. 24 that led to flooding, road closures and stranded vehicles in Wayne and Monroe counties. That was followed by even more severe weather later that evening with the National Weather Service (NWS) reporting a total of seven tornadoes across the state.

While most of the tornadoes were classified as EF-1 or moderate intensity, the tornado in Williamston and Webberville was classified as EF-2, or strong, while the tornado in Canton was classified as EF-0, or weak.

At least five people died as a result, including an 84-year-old woman killed after a tree fell on her house near Lansing, a 21-year-old Kent County woman and two young girls who died in a head-on collision during the rainstorm and a Hartland Township man killed by the Williamston tornado. 

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) said while affected communities have worked tirelessly to repair and recover from the damages, it was clear more needed to be done.

Damage from the Aug. 24, 2023 storm in Lansing north of the Capitol, Aug. 28, 2023 | Susan J. Demas

“I applaud the President for approving Michigan’s request for a Major Disaster declaration, which will send critical federal resources to residents in need of support,” said Peters in a statement. “As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee overseeing our nation’s federal disaster response, I’ll continue working to ensure Michiganders and our communities can better withstand and recover from future natural disasters.” 

Whitmer made the Major Disaster Declaration request as the storms caused communities across the state to experience road and bridge closures, downed trees and power lines, damage to building structures, embankments, and road surfaces, overwhelmed stormwater and sewer systems, and deposits of silt and debris. Hundreds of homeowners also reported residential flooding.  

“This federal assistance will supplement the ongoing state and local recovery efforts and will directly help home and business owners affected by these storms,” said Col. James F. Grady II, state director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and director of the Michigan State Police. “We encourage all affected residents to apply.” 

According to the White House, John F. Boyle of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been appointed to coordinate the recovery operations, while additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

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authored by Jon King
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2024%2F02%2F12%2Fbiden-approves-federal-disaster-aid-for-9-michigan-counties-affected-by-august-storms-tornadoes%2F

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