Wayne, Ionia counties to get federal aid for storm cleanup after Whitmer appeal

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Wayne and Ionia counties are to receive federal grant funding to help with storm cleanup after President Joe Biden greenlighted activation of the federal public assistance program for the area, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office said Friday. 

The announcement comes after Whitmer had appealed the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to not include Macomb and Oakland counties in the emergency declaration made after heavy rains and floods hit Metro Detroit in June.

A member of the Wayne County road crew clears drains of debris at the closed and flooded Greenfield Road near Michigan Avenue in Dearborn on Friday, July 16, 2021.

The approval means that local governments in Wayne and Ionia affected by the storms in late June become eligible for federal grants to help cover costs for storm response and recovery, including debris removal, damages to public buildings and repairs to roads and bridges.

“Michiganders have already been through enough with the unprecedented storms this summer, and the last thing they need is to be stuck with the bill for the cleanup costs,” Whitmer said.

“That’s why I’ve fought for every available dollar to lower the cost for communities and ensure that they get the much-needed assistance to get back to normal."

The heaviest rainfall and worst flooding occurred June 25-26. Whitmer declared a state of emergency on June 26 for Wayne County, later adding Huron, Ionia and Washtenaw counties.

Biden issued a disaster declaration on July 15 allowing for federal individual assistance for Wayne and Washtenaw counties, which Whitmer requested be expanded on Aug. 27. But that request was denied by FEMA last month. 

Whitmer appealed the denial following additional damage assessments by local and federal officials. 

“These much-needed grants will help Wayne County residents continue to rebuild and recover after this year’s severe weather,” Wayne County Commissioner Chair Alisha Bell said in a statement.

“We thank Governor Whitmer for appealing the initial denial from the federal government and for fighting tirelessly for Wayne County residents.” 

The state also said Friday that more than 8,600 households in Macomb and Oakland counties affected by flooding and power outages from the June storms had received over $4.8 million in federal benefits from the Disaster Supplemental Food Assistance Program. 

The state health department took applications from eligible households this month. 

The agency in August provided $11.5 million in federal disaster food aid to residents in Wayne and Washtenaw counties.