Whitmer requests federal help for tornado damage in Southwest Michigan

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Andrew Roth

After tornadoes damaged a swath of Southwest Michigan last month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer requested on Thursday federal assistance in a letter to President Joe Biden.

Four tornadoes touched down May 7 in Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, Branch and Cass counties. Severe storms, including hail, also hit the counties, causing severe damage, according to a release. Whitmer declared a state of emergency following the storms. 

Damage assessments completed by state, federal and local officials last month found the impacted communities would need more than $4 million to recover from the damages. The storms left 16 injured and damaged buildings, including homes and businesses, and the power grid, according to the release. 

“I’m requesting a presidential disaster declaration so we can deliver critical financial assistance to support families, businesses and communities as they recover and rebuild,” Whitmer said in the release. “Michiganders are resilient. We will get through this together, just as we always have.” 

Whitmer asked Biden for a Major Disaster Declaration, allowing Michigan to access federal funds to repair damaged property and provide temporary housing.

“The significant impact of these storms requires additional assistance from the federal government as well,” state Rep. Julie M. Rogers (D-Kalamazoo) said in the release. “Having federal funding available will ensure residents can rebuild quicker and return to their everyday lives.” 

The request goes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which will make a recommendation to Biden, who has the final say. 

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