Editors in hurricane, earthquake, tornado and flood-prone areas should be concerned about how five southern Illinois counties and especially Harrisburg, Ill, recently smacked by a 170-mph twister that damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes, are being nixed for assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), advises Grumpy Editor.
The “no help” should spark editorials because the same thing could happen in the areas they serve.
Denial of aid comes despite the stated mission of FEMA, with about 7,500 employees, that is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:
“FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.”
Denying aid means residents of the region will not be eligible for federal funds to assist in repairing or replacing damage from a mighty Feb. 29 twister.
Eric Gregg, mayor of Harrisburg, where the tornado killed seven residents, said, “I want to know how this decision was reached and why because frankly, I don't understand it.” He estimated damage to his community at “tens of millions.”
Gregg hoped President Barack Obama will visit southern Illinois to see the devastation first hand.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said he was “extremely disappointed that FEMA denied our request for federal assistance that is needed to help people in Harrisburg, Ridgway and the other communities. After personally surveying the damage and talking to many residents who lost their homes, I firmly believe federal assistance is crucial to help them begin the recovery process."
The governor hoped to get the FEMA decision appealed.
A FEMA spokesman said agency officials determined assistance from state and local agencies, combined with volunteer groups and private insurance, would be enough for the five counties to rebuild on their own.