Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FEMA Denies Hurricane Sandy Aid to Maryland [Updated]

Chrisfield, Maryland during Sandy

Source: rightcoastconservative.blogspot.com/
    President Obama's trip to NJ and NY in the waning days of the campaign to view Hurricane Sandy damage has been widely credited with give him a last minute boost in the polls.  Now that the Salisbury Maryland Daily Times is reporting that FEMA has denied federal funds for Maryland homeowners, one wonders if any Maryland voters will be having second thoughts:
WASHINGTON — Maryland residents whose homes and other property were damaged by Hurricane Sandy will not be able to get federal funds to help cover the cost of their losses.
The state’s request for individual assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency was denied Monday.
Gov. Martin O’Malley and other elected officials were notified of the decision in the late afternoon, said Michael Wade, a FEMA spokesman.
The governor has a right to appeal the decision, he said.
The decision comes the same day members of the Maryland Congressional delegation joined Maryland's two senators and sent a letter to President Obama requesting an update on the FEMA decision:
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) were joined by members of Maryland’s Congressional Delegation today in sending a letter to President Barack Obama supporting Governor O’Malley’s updated request for Individual Assistance for Lower Shore counties which experienced the most severe damage as a result Super-Storm Sandy. The letter was signed by Senators Mikulski and Cardin, as well as U.S. Representatives Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) and Andy Harris (R-Md.).
“It’s been a month since this storm affected our state. The individual assistance requested will provide vital resources to save lives and protect property,” Team Maryland wrote. “We urge a swift decision on this amended request, absent of bureaucratic delay.  The situation in these localities has the potential to negatively impact services in other areas, given an already strained economic environment.”
     The letter noted that:
585 homes in Somerset were affected by the storm, 71 of those experiencing major damage and 2 homes being completely destroyed.  Only 32% of these homes have been found to be insured.  In a county where the poverty rate is among the highest in the state, and the median income represents only 57% of the state average,  we are concerned about further economic harm to these residents as they further await assistance.
    On November 20, President Obama had declared a "major disaster" in the State of Maryland from Sandy.  His instructions to FEMA were as follows:

    I have determined that the damage in certain areas of the State
of Maryland resulting from Hurricane Sandy during the period of
October 26 to November 4, 2012, is of sufficient severity and
magnitude to warrant a major disaster declaration under the Robert
T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C.
5121 et seq. (the ``Stafford Act''). Therefore, I declare that such
a major disaster exists in the State of Maryland.
    In order to provide Federal assistance, you are hereby
authorized to allocate from funds available for these purposes such
amounts as you find necessary for Federal disaster assistance and
administrative expenses.
    Apparently FEMA begged to differ.

UPDATE:  Ironically, this story appeared at Your4state.com the same day FEMA denied assistance to Maryland:
Frederick Residents Save Money After FEMA Honors CityBy: Dana Chicklas
Updated: December 3, 2012

FREDERICK, MD - You may remember these scenes from Frederick during the hurricane, rivers overflowing and parks underwater; but Mayor Randy McClement says this is exactly what the city is supposed to do.
"They'd say, 'oh my gosh, the park is flooded!' and we go, 'that's good, it's doing exactly what it's supposed to be.' The park is part of the flood control plain: It is supposed to retain water, allowing it to get down through the channels at a reasonable rate, instead of just rushing through downtown and flooding everything," says Frederick Mayor, Randy McClement.
And it's not just Mayor McClement who believes the city's flood plan worked swimmingly. FEMA just recognized Frederick as a top city for managing floods in their national Community Rating System program.
"The city has gone above and beyond the minimum requirements of the national flood insurance program, because they recognized that there are other things they can do to make their citizens much safer, and save them money on their insurance policies as well," says Kathryn Lipiecki, a Mitigation Planning Specialist with FEMA.
Now city residents will save about $73 annually in their flood insurance because of this FEMA rating, if they have the national flood insurance plan.

Note: According to Senator Barbara Mikulski, as of November 21, 2012, Sandy damage in Maryland totaled about $27 million.  While scores of individuals are doubtless in need of assistance, $27 million only represents about .08% of the annual Maryland budget.  Perhaps this is the reason FEMA turned down the request for federal aid.

UPDATE:  Residents and businesses in Crisfield, particularly hard hit during Sandy, were furious after hearing of FEMA's decision.  The Crisfield Chamber of Commerce met on Tuesday to discuss the matter and air grievances:
"The request to the federal government was a bunch of proud Crisfielders and Somerset Countians saying ' really for the first time ever we need some help from you guys and they said no. So it means we're on our own," resident John Phoebus says.

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