Wednesday, August 31, 2005

LA should have received FEMA disaster mitigation grants, but got NOTHING

(like everyone else, i've been obsessed with the New Orleans, Katrina story. i've got some stuff to share. this is just the tip of the iceberg. seems New Orleans was a low priority in every imaginable way when it comes to disaster mitigation. read on. brook)

"Louisiana should have been high on the list for FEMA's biggest disaster mitigation grant program -- so why did the state get nothing?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency shook up its way of distributing disaster preparedness money when it introduced its Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program in 2002. Given the program's criteria, Louisiana appeared to have been a shoo-in for federal dollars for 2003, the first year the program began awarding money. Instead, Louisiana got nothing.

Tom Rodrigue, flood zone manager for the Jefferson Parish Office of Emergency Management, says that office had submitted three grant applications and expected to receive some money. 'One of the number one priorities for that PDM grant program is repetitive loss structures; Jefferson Parish, unfortunately, has more repetitive loss structures than any parish in the country,' he says. 'We felt sure we would get some funding out of that grant program, and we didn't.'

...Fifteen parishes applied for 2003 grants, a FEMA spokesman said. But last year, the nearly $60 million pot of federal PDM money went to 31 other states and Puerto Rico.

Texas received the biggest share, more than $8.8 million, followed by California ($6.1 million) and Florida ($5.3 million).

After Jefferson Parish emergency management officials received notice in June that they, and everyone else in Louisiana, had been rejected for PDM money, emergency management director Walter Maestri wrote to the state Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the conduit for FEMA dollars in Louisiana.

After complaining about the lack of direction his office received from DHS and the FEMA regional office that covers Louisiana -- Region VI, based in Texas -- Maestri outlined the lengths to which Jefferson Parish had gone to provide information to FEMA. 'It is therefore difficult for me to understand how this parish, as well as any other parish in the State of Louisiana, was not approved for any PDM funding for (fiscal year) 03,' he wrote, adding that FEMA's stated reasons for declining funds to Louisiana were vague.

(more at link)


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