Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced today that she has sent a letter to the president requesting a major disaster declaration during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s office said that if granted in full, among other things, a major disaster declaration would help the state provide meals to families who need them and provide rental assistance and temporary housing to families. It would also allow the state to provide counseling and therapy for Michigan residents whose mental health is affected by COVID-19, whether they or a loved one gets sick or hospitalized. Additionally, the declaration would provide much-needed additional capacity and funding to the state in the event Michigan needs to quickly set up field hospitals or other facilities.
“We’ve seen an incredible amount of strength and courage of Michiganders during this time of uncertainty, whether it’s from communities donating food, money, and resources to those that need it or from teachers finding new and creative ways to reach out to their students,” said Governor Whitmer. “While the people and businesses of the great State of Michigan have shown incredible resilience and cooperation throughout this difficult time, we cannot weather this storm alone. I am hopeful that the president will grant my request for a major disaster declaration in full and within a matter of days so we can provide more services to Michiganders who need them.”
The programs the governor requested to assist Michiganders during this time include, but are not limited to the following categories of individual assistance: Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Disaster Crisis Counseling, Disaster Case Management, Individuals and Households Program, Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Disaster Survivor Assistance, Disaster Legal Services, and Voluntary Agency Coordination. If approved, these programs would provide direct assistance to Michiganders through state, tribal, and local partnerships with FEMA other agencies.
The governor also requested critical public assistance programs like Debris Removal, Emergency Protective Measures, Roads and Bridges, Water Control Facilities, Buildings and Equipment, Utilities, and Parks, Recreation, and Other Facilities. The strain on Michigan’s infrastructure during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic has been great, and assistance is required to continue providing a safe and healthy Michigan for all.
Additionally, the governor requested Hazard Mitigation assistance to help provide relief during planning for recovery in the long-term, as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated this state’s vulnerability to future pandemics. If granted, the governor plans to take the lessons learned from this virus and apply them prospectively.