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Whitmer requests disaster declarations in Macomb, Oakland counties after severe weather

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has requested a president disaster declaration for Oakland and Macomb counties following severe weather this summer.

President Joe Biden has already issued similar declarations for Wayne and Washtenaw counties, but recent assessments in Oakland and Macomb prompted the governor to add them to the request.

The disaster declaration would make it possible for home owners in Macomb and Oakland to apply for low-cost loans and grants to cover temporary housing or repairs. It was possible to request the declaration after a preliminary damage assessment was completed in those counties by local and federal officials.

Vehicles are stalled in flood water on Hayes just north of Masonic in Fraser, Thursday morning, Aug. 12, 2021, after a series of storms moved through the area overnight.

“A presidential declaration for these additional counties will unlock even greater resources to help residents who suffered loss of personal property and untold damage to their homes," Whitmer said. 

The governor also has requested assistance for state and local government response costs in Detroit and Ionia, Wayne and Washtenaw counties. 

The damage in Oakland, Washtenaw, Wayne and Macomb occurred after heavy rainfall and flooding on June 25 and 26. Huron and Ionia counties fell victim to tornados around the same time.  Besides the late June weather, Whitmer in her letter detailed severe weather incidents July 7, 14, 16, 24 and 25 and Aug. 11 that have exacerbated issues. 

Whitmer's Friday letter to Biden requesting the disaster declaration also asks for an expansion of benefits for Ionia, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. 

Impacted jurisdictions estimate the costs for emergency response and repairs to infrastructure and public facilities is more than $120 million, Whitmer said. A portion of those costs will be covered by insurance.

"As these assessments concluded on August 25, it has become clear that public damages in the counties of Ionia, Washtenaw, and Wayne are of such severity and magnitude that effective response and recovery are beyond the capabilities of the state of Michigan and the affected local governments," Whitmer wrote. 

Whitmer pointed to the lack of damage at Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn and the Allen Creek watershed in Ann Arbor as proof that local governments and entities have made investments in recent years to mitigate the effects of natural disasters. 

"Many of these mitigation projects likely lessened the impact of this disaster, and therefore reduced applicable county and state per-capita cost indicators," Whitmer wrote.