On the night of March 27, President Donald Trump approved Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s request for a major disaster declaration in Michigan. The declaration includes support for crisis counseling and emergency protective measures. In addition, the governor announced March 28 delivery of 112,800 N95 masks from the Strategic National Stockpile.
The declaration means that Michigan is now eligible for participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programming to provide relief for Michiganders impacted by the COVID-19 virus and measures to slow the spread of the virus. While Michigan made a broad request for aid in every individual assistance and public assistance program from the individual assistance category, funding was approved for the crisis counseling program, and funding for emergency protective measures from the public assistance category was also approved.
“This is a good start, and it will help us protect Michiganders and slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Whitmer. “I’m hopeful that the president will review my request for individual assistance programs that would provide meals to families who need them and rental assistance and temporary housing for families. I look forward to the federal government’s continued partnership as we work to fight this virus.”
The crisis counseling program is a direct-support program to provide services for those whose mental health has been impacted by the spread of COVID-19. The federal government also granted the governor’s request for emergency protective measures, including funding for transporting and pre-positioning equipment, Emergency Operation Center (EOC)-related costs, medical supplies and personal protective equipment, medical care and transport and childcare. The governor’s request for hazard mitigation assistance to help provide relief during planning for recovery in the long-term is currently under review.
While the relief package approved by congress on March 27 will provide relief in some of the requested areas of individual assistance, including unemployment insurance assistance and disaster supplemental nutrition assistance programming (D-SNAP) under the Stafford Act, FEMA can also provide aid in these areas where they do not overlap with existing programs. Michigan requested assistance for both disaster unemployment assistance and D-SNAP that have not yet been approved.
Whitmer sent the letter to the president requesting a major disaster declaration on March 26. The programs the governor originally 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 and other agencies. Disasters hit the most vulnerable first, and the programs were requested to provide relief to the homeless, those looking for legal assistance, the loved ones of individuals lost to COVID-19, those without access to water and more
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.
Also of March 28, Whitmer announced on Twitter that the state of Michigan received a shipment of 112,800 N95 masks from the strategic national stockpile that morning, with an additional shipment of 8,000 masks on the way.
“This is great news for our front line health care workers,” said Whitmer. “We’ll keep working hard along with FEMA and the White House to get more of the personal protective equipment we need to keep Michiganders safe.”