FEMA’s been in state news for awhile now. Whether it’s the response to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene or more recently “Snowtober,” New Hampshire’s filed a lot of requests for federal aid in a short time.
Although President Obama did issue an emergency declaration following the snow storm, allowing FEMA to offer assistance, it was much more limited aid than what came down after Irene hit. (You can read more about the Irene aid process here)
Early last week, Governor John Lynch asked FEMA to reconsider the type of aid it’s offering. His press release noted:
“The declaration granted by FEMA on Tuesday is limited to direct assistance from federal agencies, which would only cover the cost of water, food and other materials such as generators that are supplied directly by federal agencies.
Governor Lynch has asked FEMA to expand the declaration to cover state and local costs for debris removal, snow removal, overtime, sheltering and other emergency response costs, items which were included in New Hampshire’s original request. If granted, FEMA would cover 75 percent of these state and local expenses.”
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about an uptick in natural disasters. For a state like New Hampshire, which isn’t known across the country for its extreme weather patterns, have the number of FEMA claims gone up over the past decade? Or even over the past 50 years? If so, have the claims gone up because weather events have gotten worse, or because there’s more political and/or fiscal pressure for governors to go to the feds for help? On the same note, has FEMA loosened its criteria for disaster relief? And has the agency followed-through on its promises of aid for New Hampshire?
I’ve been looking at this issue for a couple of weeks now. And getting the foundational data hasn’t been easy.
The FEMA news desk did send me a link to the history of disaster relief in New Hampshire dating back to 1953, which you can check out here. (Fair warning, it’s not in chronological order.)
What’s interesting about this link is that the little box on the right hand side with tabs along the top is supposed to show how much public or individual aid FEMA ultimately doled-out for the disaster. And you’ll find that information for some of the later disasters.
But you won’t find that information for most of them.
So I called FEMA back.
And I called them again last week. They’d hoped to get me the info by Friday or yesterday, at the latest. But with the Emergency Alert System test on deck, I was told it looked like it’d be another couple of days before I could get the information.
Then, just as I was getting ready to post–a PDF landed in my inbox. I’ll look it over and see if I can work this info into my inquiry.
Hopefully, an interactive StateImpact graphic won’t be far behind.