Whitmer offers $10M in emergency aid for June 25-26 flooding victims

Ben Wilson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Thursday she is making $10 million in state emergency aid available to Metro Detroit families hit by the June 25-26 rainstorms and flooding.

The money would be targeted at households who aren't eligible for federal relief or don't receive "adequate resources" from the Federal Emergency Management Agency of Small Business Administration "to return to their pre-disaster quality of life," according to Whitmer's office. 

The state aid comes from a supplemental funding bill, which Whitmer signed on Monday, to help areas with restoration costs and other expenses resulting from weather-related events that happened in June.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks during a press conference at Balduck Park in Detroit on Thursday, July 29, 2021.Whitmer announced a plan to utilize $10 million in state general funds to provide emergency relief to households impacted by heavy rainfall and flooding on June 25 and 26.

The money will be given to the city of Detroit as well as Wayne and Washtenaw counties, which are expected to set up residential gap funding grant programs, the governor said at a Thursday press conference in Detroit, where up to 7 inches of rain fell over a two-day period.

The aid recognizes "the hardships the flooding has placed on individuals and families that sustained damage to their homes and loss of personal property," Whitmer said in a Thursday statement. 

On July 15, President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration making federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties. Whitmer also has requested more than $50 million in federal assistance to repair damaged highways and purchase backup pump station generators.  

The $10 million is part of a larger $384.7 million economic recovery bill Whitmer signed Monday. All but $17 million came from federal funds through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The other $7 million in state funds is going to wrongful imprisonment compensation.

The $367.7 million in federal funds will go to help entities affected by the pandemic and includes $105 million for child development and care program providers, $160 million for hospital grant awards and at least $100 million for nursing homes. 

"We are working day and night to make sure that we get help for Michigan families," Whitmer said. "All of our actions have one goal in mind and that is to help people whose homes have been damaged, whose lives have been disrupted."

Whitmer talked about other measures her administration is taking to assist flood victims, including pushing back mortgage payments.

"My administration is partnering with financial institutions across the state to announce a plan that will allow impacted families to delay their monthly mortgage payments," she said, but didn't offer details.

The administration is also distributing cash payments to assist in repair efforts for damaged houses. 

"The Department of Health and Human Services is also offering cash assistance directly to families to help them pay for a range of expenses, including home repairs to utilities," Whitmer said. 

When asked if there were conversations happening about aid for homes damaged in recent July flooding events, Whitmer confirmed there are. Farmington, Farmington Hills and Southfield are "areas that we are looking to get to some support to," she said.

When asked if she is considering mandating vaccinations for government employees, Whitmer said she will “continue to encourage employees to vaccinate” but made no mention of requiring it. 

“Our policy is vaccinated. If you're not, you are required to be wearing a mask when you're inside the workplace,” she said. “That is commensurate with a lot of workplaces across the state. And I think that that's the right policy.”

The governor added that she believes the rate of vaccination among employees and the public are similar. About 54% of Michigan's adults 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

Richard Clement, a Detroit resident and staffer for State Rep. Cynthia Johnson, D-Detroit, said the governor's new funding is "a first down, but we still got to get to the goal line."

"It's a start," Clement said, adding he'd like to see "a commitment to long-term infrastructure repair."