House approves $6 million flood relief for Midland and Gladwin plus unemployment package

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Floodwater reaches the bottom of a stop sign, Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in Midland, Mich. (Katy Kildee/Midland Daily News via AP)

Lansing, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday approved legislation to provide flood relief funding and implement President Trump’s federal unemployment support.

“This funding will help Michigan workers who remain unemployed due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting shutdowns and provide vital relief to struggling communities recovering from unimaginable flooding,” said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Stamas, R-Midland. “I want to thank Rep. Annette Glenn for her leadership and hard work on this much-needed financial support to help our communities recover and rebuild following devastating flood damage in May.

Senate Bill 745 would provide $6 million to communities in the Gladwin and Midland areas for flood response efforts. It would provide matching funds for available cleanup grants, debris removal and emergency protective measures such as sheltering, evacuation and chemical contamination cleanup efforts.

The Edenville and Sanford Dams were breached Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

The initial dam breach caused the failure of a second area dam – the Sanford Dam. As a result, the Tittabawassee River overflowed its 24-foot flood stage and was expected to crest around 38 feet the following day. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service said the flood stage was over 34 feet and rising.

More than 20 conservation officers from throughout the region responded with 10 DNR patrol vessels and search and rescue equipment to help continue the evacuation of flood victims.

SB 745 would also appropriate $2.9 billion in federal funding for the federal Lost Wages Assistance Program, which was created by President Trump through an executive order last month and provides eligible claimants a $300 per week additional unemployment benefit.

Michigan’s application to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to participate in the LWA program was approved Aug. 21. According to the state Unemployment Insurance Agency, about 910,000 Michiganders will be eligible to receive the additional benefit.

“Our economy has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown orders,” Stamas said. “As a result, thousands of Michigan residents remain out of work. Thanks to the president’s actions, we can use this vital federal funding to help families make ends meet during this crisis.”

Additional funding in the bill includes $3 million for Detroit flood response and mitigation and $8 million for Michigan’s contribution to an Asian carp barrier at Brandon Road Lock in Illinois. The Asian carp funding was originally appropriated in Public Act 618 of 2018 and has awaited an agreement with Illinois.

SB 745 now heads to the Senate for final approval and to be sent to the governor.

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