GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A bill from U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-MI, that aims to help coastal communities deal with rising waters and other disasters is heading to President Donald Trump’s desk.
Both the House and the Senate have passed Peters’ bill, known as the Storm Act.
The bill is now awaiting Trump’s approval.
The legislation would give local governments flexibility in addressing high water issues, such as erosion along Lake Michigan.
“Our local communities are the ones who know where that money needs to be spent and they know where the priorities are,” Peters said. “Plus, they have to pay it back — it’s not a free gift. Local municipalities are not going to spend money that is not needed for their community. They just need to be able to access money as easily as possible at the lowest possible cost so they can begin projects and start dealing with erosion right now.”
If signed into law, the act will authorize the appropriation of $200 million for the program.
Peters said states would administer the loans, while some of the program’s finer rules and details won’t be finalized until early next year.
Peters said the bill would provide a great deal of relief to West Michigan communities that have been hard hit by erosion.
“This will be an incredibly important tool for those communities that are seeing that erosion and are seeing that devastation to other public properties,” Peters said. “I haven’t met any local official that doesn’t want to get going trying to fix this, and they’re all concerned because (that) will cost money, and revenues are tight right now.”
Unfortunately for lakeshore homeowners, the loan program won’t be available to individual residents who’ve experienced property damage due to erosion.
“This money is for communities for public projects. So, it won’t be (for) individual homeowners,” Peters said. “This is something we need to consider for the future, how we can help homeowners, but right now it’s to help our communities with their projects to protect public land.”
The money would also be available to communities impacted by other natural hazards, including droughts, earthquakes and wildfires.