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Whitmer Asks Biden To Declare Major Disaster In Gaylord

LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT/AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked President Joe Biden on Wednesday to declare a major disaster in Otsego County, where an EF-3 tornado struck Gaylord on May 20.

The storm with 140 mph (225.31 kilometers per hour) winds killed two people and injured 44 others, officials have said. It destroyed homes and businesses, causing millions of dollars in property damage.

"We are doing everything in our power to secure all available assistance for the people of Gaylord as quickly as possible," Whitmer said in a news release.

A disaster declaration would make a wide range of federal assistance available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which will review Whitmer's request.

Whitmer said she has requested supplementary federal aid in the form of individual assistance to help eligible residents. If federal aid is granted, assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help people and businesses recover from the effects of the tornado.

"Without significant assistance from the federal government, residents will suffer financial hardships for years as they attempt to repair and restore their damaged homes to pre-disaster condition, repair or replace mechanical and electrical systems, and replace personal belongings," Whitmer said in her letter to Biden.

Last month, FEMA granted Whitmer's request for a joint Preliminary Damage Assessment to gather information in the affected communities and collect estimated response and recovery costs with a focus on the number of damaged homes, the extent of insurance coverage, displaced individuals and threats to health and safety.

FEMA says the state has 30 days after the initial disaster to apply for federal assistance.

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