The VIEW from here

Telling FEMA where it can go

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

Remember the storm we had May 4? You remember, the one that flooded homes, highways and apartment complexes, causing millions of dollars in damage throughout Genesee County.

The one Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright called “a 500- year storm” when as many as 9 inches of water an hour fell over the course of 4-5 hours.

Well, the U.S. government’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says that storm — the one that left cars submerged and ruined many people’s homes and businesses — wasn’t worth their time or money.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter sent recently by W. Craig Fugate, the administrator of FEMA, sent to Gov. Rick Snyder:

“Based on our review of all the information available, it has been determined that the damage to dwellings from this event was not such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies. Accordingly, we have determined that supplemental federal assistance is not necessary. Therefore, I must inform you that your request for a major disaster declaration is denied.”

Denied? Seriously, they denied Genesee County residents a little aid to help out with flood damage? Do we ask the federal government for that much?

Our county has cut millions from its budget, just as the state has. The city of Flint, the county seat, is under the control of an emergency manager and can barely afford to keep fire, police and emergency personnel on the streets. The crime rate is sky high, the city having earned the distinction of being the Murder Capital of the nation yet again. But federal aid for a flood — an act of God — isn’t necessary? Genesee County residents and businesses have sacrificed a lot in recent years. General Motors stuck it to our people and we rolled with the punches. Many people have lost their homes to foreclosure, our schools are struggling like the rest of those in the state and our roads are a crumbling mess.

But still we’ve persevered and those who have remained in Genesee

County keep thinking maybe someday things will get better.

Then we get hammered by a storm that causes a lot of damage and our officials — and the victims of the flood — hope maybe for one fleeting moment

FEMA might be able to help out with some of the damage. Not a lot of money, just enough to make things right for those who had their homes, cars or businesses damaged in the flood.

But apparently we’re not important enough here. It has to be a major disaster somewhere so FEMA can look good and the media can show FEMA at work putting federal tax dollars to use.

Genesee County, however, doesn’t have bad enough flooding to appear on FEMA’s radar. Why doesn’t Mr. Fugate come here and tell the people affected by the flood just why we’re not important enough to assist?

Since he won’t and FEMA isn’t likely to change its mind, I urge the people of the county to contact their representatives and senators and urge them to speak up on behalf of Genesee County — or ask them to strongly reconsider FEMA’s funds next fiscal year.

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