Great Lakes
Cory Morse /

Great Lakes - Congress OKs Loans for Beach Towns Struggling With High Water

Bipartisan legislation meant to assist Great Lakes coastal communities struggling with high water and shoreline erosion is headed to President Trump’s desk.

The standalone bill would help states create new revolving loan programs for projects that reduce the risk to coastal infrastructure posed by elevated water levels.

It was introduced in March by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich. It cleared both the U.S. House and Senate this week amid the waning days of a lame duck session dominated by negotiations over stopgap spending and COVID-19 pandemic relief.

The bill was co-sponsored by Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

“Providing cost-effective tools directly to local communities across Michigan is critical to helping them stave off the harmful effects that coastal erosion, flooding and rising water levels have on people’s lives and livelihoods,” Peters said.

The “Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act” amends the Stafford Disaster Relief Act by allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to fund coastal resiliency and hazard mitigation projects through state capitalization grants, which are used to fund low-interest loans for local communities.

FEMA doesn’t currently fund such coastal projects because lake level changes and shoreline erosion doesn’t generally adhere to the well-defined start-and-end points that are needed for governments to apply for federal disaster relief.

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