On Monday a “Major Disaster Declaration” was approved for the Virginia county in which I reside. According to FEMA, “The President’s action makes federal funding available to the commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Sandy.” Hazard mitigation funding is also available.
My wife and I were without power for 25 hours. We live at the end of a line and were one of the last restored. Down the mountain, a 1970s trailer-home had its roof pealed off. Sustained winds exceeding 60 mph blew off some exterior panels at the middle school gym. After the storm passed, the county sheriff told the local paper, “We had some strong winds and trees down on houses, but it could have been a lot worse. We were expecting flooding and thankfully we didn’t get any of that reported to us.”
The Governor requested a Major Disaster be declared by the President. This maximizes the amount of federal assistance available. Twenty-five Virginia counties are included in the declaration.
According to the Congressional Research Service:
44 C.F.R. § 206.47 regarding cost-share adjustments. The federal share of essential assistance shall not be less than 75% of the eligible costs of such assistance. 42 U.S.C. §5170b(b), (c)(4). For hazard mitigation under 42 U.S.C. § 5170c(a), the federal share is upto 75% of the cost of hazard mitigation measures the President has determined are cost effective and which substantially reduce the risk of future damage, hardship, loss, or suffering in any area affected by a major disaster. For repair, restoration and replacement of damaged facilities under 42 U.S.C. § 5172(b)(1) the federal share is not less than 75 percent, but this amount may be reduced to not less than 25% under § 5172(b)(2) in the case of repair, restoration, reconstruction or replacement of any eligible public facility or private nonprofit facility following an event associated with a major disaster that has been damage don more than one occasion in the last 10 years by a similar event and with respect to which the owner has failed to implement appropriate mitigation measures to address the hazard which caused the damage to the facility. For debris removal under 42 U.S.C. § 5173(d), the federal share of assistance is not less than 75 percent of the eligible cost. The federal share for assistance to individuals and households under 42 U.S.C. § 5174 is 100% of eligible costs generally, except that it is 75% for financial assistance for other needs, the non-federal share to be paid from state funds. The maximum financial assistance that an individual or household can receive under this program is $25,000 with respect to a single disaster, with the limit subject to annual adjustment to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers published by the Department of Labor.
Section 501 of the Stafford Act requires that a Governor’s request for a declaration, “shall be based on a finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that Federal assistance is necessary.”
Clearly, there are localities where this criterion has been more than met.
I have drafted and deleted several more sentences. I seem trapped in a tone that is cynical, acrid, churlish, peevish, and — well, I guess — unrealistic. Until I can offer something more constructive, I’ll leave it there.