06.09.22

Peters, Stabenow & Bergman Urge President Biden to Declare Major Disaster Declaration for Otsego County Following Destructive Tornado in Gaylord

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Debbie Stabenow (MI), as well as U.S. Representative Jack Bergman (MI-01) urged President Biden to declare a Major Disaster for the Michigan County of Otsego following a destructive tornado in Gaylord that caused two deaths, dozens of injuries, and millions of dollars’ worth of damage. In their letter, the lawmakers supported Governor Gretchen Whitmer's request for a Major Disaster declaration.

“We ask that you approve this declaration as soon as possible to direct federal resources towards the site of destruction caused by an EF-3 tornado, which significantly damaged homes and businesses in the area,” wrote the lawmakers. “This horrible disaster also destroyed businesses, devastated the Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park, displaced residents from their now-uninhabitable homes, and left considerable debris in its wake.”

The lawmakers continued: The state, county, and local governments stepped up to meet this disaster with all available resources and authorities. Emergency first responders including brave volunteers, EMS, Michigan Task Force 1, and the Michigan State Police have been working on the ground since the event, providing lifesaving assistance in the face of cell service interruptions, downed power lines, and gas leaks. However, federal assistance will also be required to help the community fully recover. ”

A federal Major Disaster declaration would allow for federal assistance to individuals and small businesses and to help protect communities from future disasters. This assistance includes Individual Assistance for individuals and families, 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 write to support Governor Whitmer’s recent request for a Major Disaster declaration, including activation of all Individual Assistance programs, for Otsego County. We ask that you approve this declaration as soon as possible to direct federal resources towards the site of destruction caused by an EF-3 tornado, which significantly damaged homes and businesses in the area.

On May 20, 2022 at approximately 3:50 p.m. EDT, a tornado went through Gaylord and surrounding areas, tragically resulting in the loss of two lives and 44 other injuries among residents. This horrible disaster also destroyed businesses, devastated the Nottingham Forest Mobile Home Park, displaced residents from their now-uninhabitable homes, and left considerable debris in its wake. The survivors—especially the many low-income, uninsured and underinsured, and senior citizens residing in the area—will need federal assistance. It is likely that there will be significant disaster related unemployment due to the storm’s impact on businesses.

The state, county, and local governments stepped up to meet this disaster with all available resources and authorities. Emergency first responders including brave volunteers, EMS, Michigan Task Force 1, and the Michigan State Police have been working on the ground since the event, providing lifesaving assistance in the face of cell service interruptions, downed power lines, and gas leaks. However, federal assistance will also be required to help the community fully recover.

Gaylord is home to some of the most resilient and selfless citizens in our nation. Nevertheless, additional resources are needed so the residents and business owners in this community can recover from this disaster. Your approval of this request is urgently needed to cover a crucial gap in financial support for these efforts. Thank you for you swift attention to this critical matter.

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