Will we see any money from FEMA for our Winter Storm clean-up?

TERRE HAUTE, IND. (WTHI) – It’s been a hard-lined and rigorous winter. If you drove through the winter months you know the snow and ice required a lot of labor for the roads through Terre Haute. And it took a lot of salt and operation of snow plows for continuous hours to keep things safe.

“When we start seeing these long term events when we are in operations 3 to 4 days or a week long, we know that cost and budgets are just pretty much going to blow up,” said Dr. Dorene Hojnicki, Director of Emergency Management Agency in Terre Haute.

The preparation, the clean up and making sure the roads are secure takes a lot of money and a lot of work. The string of winter storms has pushed many cities over budget and in need for federal assistance from FEMA. That is where we sat after our Jan 5th snowstorm that left the city working hour to hour to battle 12 inches of snowfall.

EMA says our collective threshold for an event is $345,000 dollars, we totaled at $680,000 after that big event, and over $408,000 with state agencies subtracted. That passed the requirement for FEMA.

But what happens next? Hojnicki says “we declare an emergency, then we will declare it to the state, once that process gets going the state will then declare that to FEMA and basically the president”.

That’s a lot of links in a chain to have to connect to see any money return. Even when it all is linked together, money might not fuel in.

“It doesn’t mean that since we did declare [an emergency], that anything will come back”, said Hojnicki.

So that money might not even make it back to our budget which leads to a new problem. What happens next?  Hojnicki says that money will have to come from another planned spending project.

But there is more to it, what should they do for the next preliminary budget?

“You just can’t have a knee-jerk effect. If this happens once every 30 years i’m not going to increase my budget. We have to be aware that it may happen, and every agency does that, but we also have to be reasonable”, said Hojnicki.

EMA officials say it might take 6 to 18 months time before we find out if we will get any sort of federal assistance. If we do get something back it will only be up to 75 percent, and we won’t even see a full amount.

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