This article written by Mark Brown on March 11th helps to put into perspective why the FEMA calculation does not work. This was his explanation not only of what happened here in Washington, but what happened in Cook County during floods last April. The original article can be found here: FEMA DISASTER ASSISTANCE FORMULA

Below is an excerpt:

While FEMA insists there is no set formula for determining who qualifies for what is known as “public assistance,” it is well-established that the agency sets minimum cost thresholds that must be exceeded before the federal government will pay out in a disaster.

There is a state threshold and a county threshold, both determined by applying a per capita cost factor.

For 2013, the state cost factor was $1.39 per person. With a population of 12.8 million people, that gave Illinois a threshold of $17.8 million, meaning Illinois could not qualify for FEMA public assistance unless its costs exceeded that mark.

The November tornadoes that struck Illinois devastated little Washington but fell short of causing $17.8 million in reimbursable losses statewide, at least by FEMA’s calculations. Tough luck, Washington.

In the April floods, however, the losses statewide were pegged at $18.9 million, and FEMA public assistance was approved.

Once the state met its threshold, however, the county threshold came into play. The county threshold for 2013 was based on a cost factor of $3.45 per person.

That meant Cook County, with its population of 5.2 million, needed to exceed $17.9 million in costs before its towns could qualify for help — a higher threshold than for the entire state of Illinois. It barely got halfway there, meaning tough luck to Des Plaines and Westchester and all the other towns that found themselves treading water.

Meanwhile, DuPage County, with a population of 917,000, had to prove only $3.2 million in costs, which it did easily. Some of those federal reimbursements to municipalities in DuPage County are just now starting to trickle in, said James Joseph, DuPage’s director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

“It’s really hard for me to say if it’s unfair or not,” Joseph said.

True, but it’s easy enough for me. It’s unfair.


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