In April 2013, it was the 100-year flood.
In November 2013, it was the tornadoes.
In January 2014, it was the snowstorm.
During the past four years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied Howard County three separate requests for aid.
And when last year’s tornadoes reared their heads once more, we didn’t even bother applying.
What, exactly, is the problem here? Was it something we said? Do they just not like the looks of us?
As Tribune reporter George Myers’ front page story in today’s paper points out, it comes down to simple math. And we, apparently, just don’t add up according to them.
“To receive funding through the Federal Reimbursement Program, the following thresholds must each be met in uninsured damage: the county’s population multiplied by $3.57 (for instance, Howard County must have experienced $295,425 in uninsured damage) and Indiana’s population multiplied by $1.41, which comes to a total of $9.2 million in uninsured costs,” reported Myers.
And, as Myers further pointed out, it isn’t just the hard figures. It’s also the time frame, which is artificially constricted.
“A declaration of a major disaster must also be requested by the governor within 30 days of the incident, and it must then be declared by the president of the United States,” reported Myers. “To receive any funding from FEMA — which also requires meticulous record-keeping as specific as chainsaw horsepower during recovery efforts — each requirement must be fulfilled, no matter how bad the damage sustained by an individual county.”
Something must be done before the next disaster. We are a resilient bunch, but these denials stung. After three separate refusals in less than 12 months, it can start to feel personal. Try telling those touched by these disasters that they weren’t that bad. It hurts.
We hope our elected officials will hear this appeal and work to adjust these arbitrary standards. We rely on our federal government for protection and help recovering when the unexpected happens. In places across the country, this year has proven that Americans require this type of support.
We are the richest country in the history of the world. This is a promise we can keep if we set our minds to it.