UPDATE: Tornado rips through county

A downed tree sits across the street from the damaged house at 4825 Newburg Rd.

LANSING — The Michigan State House Thursday passed a bill that provides financial relief to emergency agencies in Shiawassee County for expenses related to a pair of March tornadoes.

State Rep. Ben Frederick said in a press release that financial relief will help Shiawassee County law enforcement agencies pay needed expenses following mid-March tornadoes that stressed public safety budgets.

The House approved $163,000 in documented expenses as part of Senate Bill 150 to help first responders bridge the gap for extra costs. The money will be distributed to 13 agencies in the county.

“Our community rallied together and stayed strong in the face of adversity,” said Frederick, R-Owosso, after the House approved the funding. “Our first responders and law enforcement agencies led the charge, working around the clock while partnering to keep our families safe.”

Frederick and state Sen. Tom Barrett, R-Charlotte, began work to secure the funding in the state budget following Gov. Whitmer’s unexpected decision to not declare a state of emergency. Such a declaration would have provided immediate access to emergency relief dollars of an equivalent amount.

Two tornadoes touched down in Shiawassee County March 14 — damaging 94 homes, four businesses, 16 barns and several vehicles — with properties in Vernon, Venice and Shiawassee townships particularly hard hit.

“Everyone came together and did what had to be done — for our community, and for each other,” Frederick said. “That’s part of what makes Shiawassee County so special. I appreciate both sides of the aisle now coming together to ensure our Shiawassee County first responders are supported.”

According to michiganvotes.org, SB 150 was introduced in February. An amendment to include spending for Shiawassee County was added by voice vote April 25.

The Senate approved the bill — which adds $12 million additional funds to the current fiscal year state budget — 37-0 on April 25. The House passed the bill 107-2 Thursday.

Shiawassee County did not receive a disaster declaration from the state, in part, because local agencies did not meet the threshold for spending.

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