Monday, September 19, 2005

A Hawkeye Hurricane

"They don't seem to realize that every one of these storms did more damage in two hours than Osama bin Laden did in his whole career."

-- Frank Reddis, emergency management coordinator of Miami-Dade County
The St. Petersburg Times answers a question many have wondered about: What ever happened to FEMA's 'mitigation' grant program? The answer:
Of 785 applicants this year, fewer than 150 have been awarded grants. By far the biggest recipient is Iowa, which ranks 30th in population but got 36 grants, or almost a fourth of the total number.
Parts of Iowa regularly suffer from Spring floods along the Mississippi and its tributaries, of course. But 25% of all FEMA mitigation grants?

In fairness, all those Iowa grants amount to only "about 4 percent of the $27-million awarded thus far," as senior Times correspondent Susan Taylor Martin points out. Smaller grants awarded in dribs and drabs seem to be the order of the day.

The reason is the Bush administration cut FEMA's mitigation budget in half -- "and got off to such a slow start that 2005 marks only the second round of grants." Even worse, "the Republican controlled Senate wants to cut next year's funding to $37 million... a 75% reduction."

As Pinellas County Emergency Management director says, that's "too small a pot of money to be spread out nationwide. It's difficult to get a large-dollar project funded."

So, the Hawkeye State wins. And the Gulf Coast slogs through hundreds of miles of mud and debris.

No comments: