Dallas got clobbered on Oct. 20 by a tornado that tore through the city, causing considerable damage totaling something well north of $35 million.
The city is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency for federal help as the city seeks to rebuild from Mother Nature’s wrath.
FEMA is balking. The feds are insisting that the damage level doesn’t rise to the level of a presidential disaster declaration. Local officials argue that, au contraire, it certainly does reach that level.
The feds say the city must suffer at least $38.5 million in damage for FEMA to seek a disaster declaration. According to the Dallas Morning News, Elizabeth Reich, the city’s chief financial officer, said the disaster totals have surpassed $45 million.
Good grief, FEMA. The city needs help. Schools have been forced to close because the tornado destroyed their structures; children have been uprooted and sent to other schools far from their neighborhoods; their families have been traumatized.
Isn’t the federal government supposed to respond to communities such as Dallas that have been ravaged by forces well beyond human control?
One issue appears to be the city’s street signal system, which reportedly is outdated. The storm knocked many of the signals out. FEMA doesn’t want to help the city cover the deductible costs it would incur by trying to restore service to the signals as well as begin work on repair all the damage that the storm inflicted.
In my view, FEMA is quibbling with a stricken major American city’s public officials.
As the DMN reported: “It seems as if this should be declared a disaster,” said Reich. “It clearly has been for the community, and it will take a long time to recover. We need all the help from our federal partners we can get.”
Well, FEMA, are you there for the city … or not?