07.15.21

Michigan Delegation Members Commend Quick Decision from President Biden Declaring a Major Disaster for Washtenaw and Wayne Counties

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Debbie Stabenow (MI) and U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence (MI-14) today led members of the Michigan Congressional Delegation in commending the quick announcement from President Biden granting a request from Governor Whitmer to declare a Major Disaster for Washtenaw and Wayne Counties. In addition to Peters, Stabenow and Lawrence the letter was signed by U.S. Representatives Dan Kildee (MI-05), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Haley Stevens (MI-11).

“We are writing to thank you for approving Governor Whitmer’s request for a Major Disaster declaration for the State of Michigan. Your swift consideration and approval of this assistance will allow communities to begin to recover from the recent flooding and storms in Michigan,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to President Biden. “The people of Michigan are resilient, and we commend the work of federal, state, and local officials in providing much needed assistance. Thank you again for your Major Disaster declaration. We look forward to working with you and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to ensure the safety of all those affected by the flood.”

In late June, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties faced severe storms and widespread flooding, which had devastating impacts on homes and businesses throughout Southeast Michigan. Federal assistance could help impacted residents find temporary housing and support businesses and families as they recover from flooding damage.

In total, the Preliminary Damage Assessment identified 1,828 homes damaged by the storms. This represents a fraction of actual damage. The Governor estimates that more than 68,000 individuals may require assistance. As noted in the Governor’s request, few of the affected households have flood insurance that covers the damages most commonly incurred during flooding. According to the Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments, homeowners with “minor” damage sustained destruction to critical parts of life such as health, transportation, and financial security. Furthermore, Wayne and Washtenaw Counties have more residents living in poverty than the national average, making them particularly vulnerable after a disaster. Without sufficient federal resources, it will be nearly impossible to make the repairs quickly enough to ensure each displaced family has a safe home.

A federal Major Disaster Declaration allows for greater federal assistance to individuals, small businesses and the community. This assistance includes Individual Assistance for families and small businesses and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to prevent damage that might occur in the future.

Text of the letter is copied below and available here.

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to thank you for approving Governor Whitmer’s request for a Major Disaster declaration for the State of Michigan. Your swift consideration and approval of this assistance will allow communities to begin to recover from the recent flooding and storms in Michigan. We will continue to partner with you to address the needs of these impacted communities.

As you know, on June 25 and 26, 2021, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties faced severe storms and widespread flooding, which had a devastating impact on homes and businesses throughout the region. Federal, state, and local officials working on the ground conducted assessments from July 8 to July 10, and determined the level of damage necessitates federal assistance.

The initial Preliminary Damage Assessment has only identified a fraction of actual damaged homes caused by the storms. The Governor estimates that more than 68,000 individuals may require assistance. Multiple homes are uninhabitable, and without assistance, many families cannot afford to make critical repairs. As noted in the Governor’s request, few of the affected households have flood insurance that covers the damages most commonly incurred during flooding. According to the Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments, even the homeowners with “minor” damage sustained destruction to critical parts of life such as health, transportation, and financial security.

Additionally, both Wayne and Washtenaw Counties have more residents living in poverty than the national average, making them particularly vulnerable after a disaster. As the Governor noted, multi-generational living in Wayne County’s vibrant Hispanic and Arab-American communities is very common and basements often serve as essential living spaces for members of the family – making the impact of flooded basements and displacement even more devastating. Nonprofits are doing their best to assist affected homeowners, but without sufficient federal resources, it will be nearly impossible to make the repairs quickly enough to ensure each displaced family has a safe home.

The people of Michigan are resilient, and we commend the work of federal, state, and local officials in providing much needed assistance. Thank you again for your Major Disaster declaration. We look forward to working with you and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials to ensure the safety of all those affected by the flood.

###