Cumberland Times-News

Editorials

July 15, 2014

Tough luck

How can you tell when a disaster is not a disaster?

The state has for a second time declined to help Allegany County get federal flood recovery funds in the wake of the June 12 storm.
That’s because our disaster wasn’t a big enough disaster to qualify as a disaster. The not-a-disaster didn’t cause enough financial damage.
It was explained that in the case of Allegany and Washington counties combined, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would look for 582 homes that suffered major damage or were destroyed before it could issue a disaster declaration.
While both counties exceeded their individual county thresholds — our damages were $1.7 million, and Washington County’s were $1.5 million — their combined losses weren’t sufficient to qualify for federal help. The total would have to be slightly more than $8 million.
Just 207 homes were affected and only a small percentage suffered major damage or were destroyed. This won’t be much comfort to those who did experience damage to their homes and businesses which, in some cases — like those of Calvary Baptist Church and Calvary Christian Academy and the Cresaptown Volunteer Fire Department — was significant.
FEMA also denied an initial request for funds following Hurricane Sandy in 2012 because only 477 homes were damaged. So, this is nothing new.
Look at it this way: Youre treading water, but are running out of energy and about to drown.
You call to someone on shore to throw you a rope, but he says the water isn’t deep enough.
“But sir,” you respond, “The water is 6 feet deep, and I’m only 5 feet, 10 inches tall.”
“Doesn’t matter,” he says. “The water has to be 7 feet deep. Those are the rules.”
There is a possibility the Small Business Administration may issue a disaster declaration so low-interest loans may be made available to our victims whose losses weren’t covered by insurance.
If you’re wondering why one federal agency would consider what happened here a diaster, but another federal agency doesn’t ... so are we. 
 

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