Gov. Whitmer pens letter to President Biden asking for southwest Michigan disaster declaration

ABC 57

CASS COUNTY, Mich. -- On Thursday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking for a Major Disaster Declaration and activation of the federal individual assistance (IA) programs for Branch, Cass, Kalamazoo, and St. Joseph counties in response to the four tornadoes that tore through the area on May 7.

"Michiganders across Southwest Michigan have been devastated by four tornadoes and severe storms, with many losing their homes and businesses," Governor Whitmer said. “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. Michiganders are resilient. We will get through this together, just as we always have."

Authorities say the severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that hit southwest Michigan resulted in roughly sixteen injuries, and caused significant damage to homes, businesses, and the power grid.

The governor's office says hail -- ranging from one to four inches in diameter -- was reported along with dangerous straight-line winds and ABC57 has seen firsthand that debris removal and other storm related clean-up has lasted several weeks.

Comments from Michigan politicians:

“On May 7, communities across southwest Michigan were impacted by severe storms and tornadoes,” said U.S. Senator Gary Peters. “Our state and local first responders were quick to assist communities in need, but now the federal government should provide the emergency assistance needed to help those who are working to get back on their feet and recover from damages. I urge the President to swiftly issue a Major Disaster declaration so that our communities have the necessary resources to rebuild after these storms.” 

“Southwest Michigan was significantly damaged by the tornados that struck the region in May,” said U.S. Congressman Bill Huizenga. “While our communities are resilient, and neighbors have rallied to help those impacted by these terrible storms, it is clear there is a role for the federal government to play in supporting recovery efforts. I am hopeful the Biden Administration will respond swiftly to this request.”

“I’m grateful for Governor Whitmer’s request today for a presidential declaration of disaster,” said state Senator Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo). “My community continues to remain resilient following these devastating storms and tornadoes. I am hoping this will bring swift and long-term relief to my district.”

“Recent storms and tornadoes have brought unprecedented devastation to our community, leaving many without homes, power and essential services,” said state Representative Christine Morse (D-Texas Township). “The swift and coordinated response from our local and state agencies has been remarkable, but the scale of the damage requires federal assistance. I support Gov. Whitmer’s request for a presidential emergency declaration from the Biden administration. This declaration is crucial for expediting the resources and support our community needs to rebuild and recover. Our thoughts are with those affected, and we are committed to doing everything possible to help our residents through this difficult time.”

“I wholeheartedly support Governor Whitmer’s request for a presidential emergency declaration for the devastating storms that hit Kalamazoo County in early May,” said state Representative Julie M. Rogers (D-Kalamazoo). “I appreciate the emergency declarations from both state and local governments to try to mobilize resources to the hardest hit areas in our community — however, unfortunately, there is more work to be done. The significant impact of these storms requires additional assistance from the federal government as well. Having federal funding available will ensure residents can rebuild quicker and return to their everyday lives.”

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