Posted on December 17, 2020
New loan program helps communities reduce shoreline erosion risk
WASHINGTON — Legislation sponsored by Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow that would help shoreline communities address rising water levels and erosion passed the Senate this past week.
The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation Act would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund and help states establish revolving loan funds that local governments can use to carry out mitigation projects and reduce natural disaster risk.
The bill is also co-sponsored by senators Rob Johnson, R-Wis., and James Lankford, R-Okla.
Unlike existing FEMA grants, these low-interest loans allow local governments to invest in resiliency and mitigation projects that would help reduce the loss of life and property, the cost of insurance, and disaster recovery payments. They would also reach communities faster than traditional FEMA grants.
“Michigan’s communities around the Great Lakes continue to be threatened by rising water levels, coastal erosion, and flooding that are wreaking havoc on people’s lives and causing damage to public and private property,” Peters said in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring that Michiganders and our beautiful coastlines are protected.”
“I have seen firsthand how the coastlines in Michigan have been devastated by flooding and erosion as a result of record high Great Lakes water levels,” Sen. Stabenow said in a statement. “Our bill provides local governments in Michigan with additional resources to address this issue.”
Currently, FEMA programs are unable to provide assistance for projects related to sustained high water levels and long-term shoreline erosion.
Along the Great Lakes, rising water levels have already flooded campgrounds and streets, caused boating problems due to submerged structures, and destroyed several beaches and homes. These disasters often cause long-term economic, social, and environmental effects for states and communities.
The Upper Thumb has suffered from high water levels and shoreline erosion over the past year and a half, with 2019 being the fourth wettest year of the past 125 years and that causing lake levels to rise.
Lake Huron continued to set record-high levels throughout the summer of 2020 but has been in seasonal decline since.