Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

State News

April 18, 2014

FEMA's disaster decisions frustrate leaders


Just weeks after it turned down the tornado-related request, FEMA said no to a plea for help covering more than $9 million in costs from a massive winter storm that shut down half the state – including Kokomo – for a week. That decision has been appealed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman was surprised by the three strikes. He saw the extensive paperwork that officials compiled to document the damage.

“You’d think somebody (at FEMA) would have said, ‘Holy cow, we’ve got to get these people some help,” Wyman said.

That sentiment has echoed in other communities around Indiana denied by FEMA. In the small city of Washington, where more than 100 homes were damaged or destroyed by the November tornado, Mayor Joe Wellman expected FEMA to come through.

“I was surprised they didn’t send us some kind of assistance,” Wellman said. “Maybe it worked against us that we that we did what needed to be done to clean up and help our own people without waiting for their help.”

John Hill, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, is just as frustrated. His agency helps communities compile the data to make a case to FEMA for disaster assistance.

“It’s so subjective,” Hill said of FEMA’s decisions. “I’m dumbfounded by it.”

Complex decisions

If FEMA’s decision making is opaque, what does seem clear is how complicated the process can be.

Each state’s governor must ask for disaster declarations that lead to two kinds of help: One provides grants to individuals like Pamela Jackson, whose lives are ravaged. The other reimburses local governments for costs such as removing debris and repairing damaged roads.

FEMA spends about $6 billion a year in disaster relief, from a $9.5 billion budget. In 2013, it issued 64 “major disaster” declarations, providing assistance after wildfires in Colorado, flooding in Alaska, and mudslides in North Carolina.

Text Only
State News
  • Counties chosen for preschool program INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s three most populous counties are among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.Allen, Jackson, Lake, Marion and Vanderburgh counties we

    July 23, 2014

  • Colts partner against Rx abuse INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force have teamed up with the Indianapolis Colts to heighten awareness of Indiana’s prescription drug abuse epidemic. According to the Indian

    July 23, 2014

  • Infant from Indy attacked, killed by dog in Ohio DAYTON, Ind. (WISH) — Authorities in Dayton, Ohio say a 7-month-old from Indianapolis was attacked and killed by a dog over the weekend.Officers were called to a home on Riverside Drive around 12:30 p.m. Sunday. Someone called 911 saying their neighb

    July 22, 2014

  • Downed jet victim was Indiana exchange student DEMOTTE, Ind. (AP) — An Indiana University doctoral student’s boyfriend who died with her on the downed plane in Ukraine had spent six months in northwestern Indiana as a high school exchange student.Jenny Jonkman said Laurens Van Der Graaff came fro

    July 22, 2014

  • nws-gb071614-hogsett resignation pic Hogsett resignation ignites rumors of Indy mayoral run INDIANAPOLIS – Political speculation abounds after Joe Hogsett’s announcement Monday that he’ll resign his U.S. attorney’s position at the end of the month.Hogsett issued a public statement after first informing his boss, U.S. Attorney General Eric H

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • State has budget surplus, $2 billion in reserves INDIANAPOLIS – As expected, the state closed its fiscal year with a budget surplus, due largely to spending cuts forced by Gov. Mike Pence.As of June 30, the state had a $106 million operating surplus and reserves of $2 billion, Auditor Suzanne Crouc

    July 16, 2014

  • Indiana's broken mental health system taxes county jail Editor’s note: People suffering from mental illness commit fewer than 4 percent of all violent crimes. But state cuts in mental health funding have limited opportunities for treatment before some people wind up on the wrong side of the law. Today, th

    July 16, 2014

  • Indiana Guard unit shows off high-tech devices TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Communication and getting unmanned eyes in the sky can be vital parts of responding to a natural or man-made disaster.Senior Airman Joseph Bowlin of the Indiana National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing knows all about communi

    July 12, 2014

  • Suspect charged with officer's death INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Major Davis Jr., 25, has been charged with murder in the shooting death of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Perry Renn, the Marion County prosecutor’s office announced Wednesday.Marion County Prosecutor Terry

    July 11, 2014

  • Youth sports leagues decline An important youth development activity is looking to end a recent losing streak.Participation in organized youth sports leagues for baseball, football, basketball and soccer declined by 4 percent between 2008-2012, according to a report in the Wall

    July 11, 2014