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Disaster Relief - At A Price: FEMA Seeks Refund From Disaster Victims

Updated on June 1, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: FEMA Seeking Money Back From Disaster Victims

The news hasn't even completely wrapped it's hooks into the internet, though it is quickly beginning to create head lines that include:

"FEMA Seeks Refund From Disaster Victims!"

It's the latest political scandal, and I'd like a moment to dissect this issue with you. As it seems rather odd for FEMA to seek a refund from errors they madeseveral years ago, from disaster victims. Especially when you go through the facts of the situation.

To give you an idea of what exactly is happening, FEMA has recently decided that it handed out too much relief money to 154,000 victims of three different hurricanes. Through several FEMA employee errors, many victims got money without being sent through the proper interviewing channels, making it so that some who already had help (through insurance, ect..) got more money then those who had no other sources of help. Though most of the residents who received FEMA aide were several short changed, even if they had extra help. Including a man who only got $30,000 from FEMA for a house that cost over $500,000 to fix, and he was denied for any other help.

Of course, FEMA is claiming that they are being responsible with tax payer money when they asked for $20,000 back from a Cedar River Flood victim who never truly got his life back after a horrible flood destroyed his home and property. He had to fight for 7 months to prove his eligibility, and now FEMA is saying that due to employee errors, he didn't actually qualify for help.

With all this happening, one has to wonder...

Does FEMA have a right to reclaim these funds?

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Does FEMA have a right to reclaim these funds?

Let's look at the admitted facts:

*The financial errors were made by FEMA employees, not be disaster victims

*In civil law, most businesses deals have a statue of limitation that allows them to deal with errors like these in one year or less.

*Even without a statue of limitation, it's been more than 5 years since most of the victims received their funding.

*The victims who supposedly received more than they should have, didn't receive even a third of what was needed to restart their lives.

*FEMA never notified the victims who received relief, that they might be called upon to repay what they owed. The idea of FEMA was to provide disaster relief funds, not disaster relief loans.

Why does FEMA need a refund?

This is an interesting part to think about. Even though FEMA gave out more than $600 Million dollars in relief to the victims they are seeking refunds from, that doesn't barely touch their yearly budget.

FEMA annually receives at least $5.8 BILLION dollars in tax payer money since 2008 (under Obama), even in 2005, they were receiving an annual budget of $5.5 Billion. Which means that they get that extra funding every year. It is estimated that they might spend a little less than $9 Million on actual disasters every year. So even if we tallied up all these numbers into one years FEMA budget ($9 million on regular disasters + $600 million on larger unexpected disasters), we still would have a surplus of $5,191,000,000.

When you take into account that they get $5.8 Billion every year, and on average only spend around $9 million, that's still $5,791,000,000 that goes unaccounted for every year. Isn't there enough funds in that "extra" money, to cover the errors made by FEMA?

FEMA is continually saying they don't have enough money to be proactive about disaster relief, and that they are short staffed and need more funding still. They suggest that it really costs billions to rebuild areas destroyed by disasters, yet they haven't even paid a third of those costs to the people and businesses that got destroyed. I have a strong feeling they are getting way to much in funds, and that employee interview errors are not the only place that money is disappearing...

Is FEMA really necessary?

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Do we really need FEMA?

I know the alternatives might not seem as great to think about, but with the way that FEMA has been run since it's start in the late 70's, it hasn't really done much to help anyone.

Instead, it has promised help and aide to those who need help recovering from disasters, and continually failed to actually do so. When they have come through to help, it has been in such small amounts that it really didn't help at all. The theory is a good one, but the federal government can never promise relief from disasters. Even if we were able to predict these disasters, there would be no way to prepare for them financially in the way they need to be prepared for.

On top of all this, FEMA's budget has gone into the classified zone since it was swallowed up by Homeland Security, meaning that there are billions of unaccounted for dollars that don't seem to be spent by FEMA, used by FEMA staff or to have gone to disaster relief.

Empty promises always end up hurting more than they help, and as we can see, most of these people would have found better benefits from not living in an areas prone to natural disasters. Even having the tax payer money going into state accounts, would have helped more than leaving the best interests of disaster victims and tax payer funds to FEMA, who clearly doesn't keep a handle on what their employees are doing.

Share your views

This isn't the first time FEMA has made errors like these, or that it has attempted to collect payments it made in error. And you can be assured it won't be the last time either. Many senators and representatives have even passed laws and amendments that can clear away any debts created by FEMA error, yet they continue to push for refunds from victims.

What do you think about all this? I want to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


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    7 years ago

    Well written. However, citations are in order. I despise FEMA as much as any other quasi-informed american but I would suggest linking to a bibliography of some sort.

    Otherwise. Kudos. I look forward to reading other thing which your mind has to offer.


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