Small Towns, Still Big Disasters

by Melissa Brunner

Looking at the pictures and video coming out of Harveyville, I can't imagine what I'd do if that was my home - my life - littering the streets and lawns.

Emergency management crews will now add up the damage in hopes the situation will qualify for federal disaster aid. It seems too often in these cases, though, we hear it does not. Oh, the low-interest Small Business Administration loans are one thing, but actual aid payments don't always come. What we commonly hear is that there were not enough individual properties damaged or the total did reach a great enough dollar amount. Remember Reading, Kansas last May? It did not qualify for FEMA's Individual Assistance Program - money given to people for uninsured losses, repairs and temporary housing - because the damage was short of the required threshold.

It seems to me that the reasoning presents a bias against small towns and rural communities. It doesn't matter to me if a tornado hits 6 homes, 60 homes or 6,000 - the home is still gone, the homeowner still left with just as devastating a loss. I understand the need for some regulations to govern assistance programs, but there must be a way to find a compromise so that the federal tax dollars all of us pay aren't reserved only for big cities.




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