American Elephants


FEMA Won’t Let Us Rebuild Our Home by The Elephant's Child

The Taylor family lives in the Natomas community in Sacramento, California. On August 24, 2012, Brad and Jennifer were driving home with their two young children when they saw smoke in their neighborhood. As they got closer to home, they realized that their house was on fire. Jennifer jumped out of the car to get the family’s elderly dog and two cats to safety while Brad drove the kids to their grandmother’s house down the street. Though shaken, both Brad and Jennifer were relieved that no one had been hurt. “It’s just a fire,” Brad said. “It can all be replaced.”

Little did they know that, thanks to regulations created by the Federal Emergency Managment Agency in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — which hit land thousands of miles away from Sacramento — their rebuilding nightmare was just beginning.

To learn more, go to the Taylors’ Facebook page, Burned OUT in Natomas: http://www.facebook.com/BurnedOutInNatomas



The Trouble With Being Dependent on the Government Is That The Government Isn’t Dependable. by The Elephant's Child

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In the aftermath of the Sandy storm surge, dozens of residents are still living after a month, without heat, hot water, or electricity in condemned structures flooded by both sea water and sewer water in the Gerritsen Beach community of Brooklyn. Their request to FEMA for temporary housing  after Hurricane Sandy was denied.

Jameson Wells, executive assistant to the director of GB Cares Sandy Relief, a volunteer relief organization, said “We need structures and housing.  It is truly desperate.” FEMA has said they did not have appropriate trailers. “They told us they were unavailable because they are unheated and not insulated.”

But just 145 miles away there are around 92 FEMA trailers sitting idle and unused on Route 315 in Plains Township, Pennsylvania. Employees from neighboring companies confirmed that the trailers were there. Some units are bigger than others, and all of the units are equipped with heat pumps.

The site manager for the FEMA trailer location told Eyewitness News : “We first have to receive a request from the state involved. These trailers were sent here to help victims of last year’s floods in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania. There are certain parameters that must be met. The request and then the location they are needed…does it fit the requirements for these trailers such as facilities, sewers, power, etc.”

That is the voice of a government bureaucracy. Nobody has the authority to take action. Parameters must be met, paperwork must be processed, requests must be routed for the required signatures — the passive voice prevails in unaccountable bureaucracy.

Gerritsen Beach is not alone in its frustration with dealing with FEMA. More than 1,000 Staten Islanders met last Thursday at New Dorp High School during a town hall meeting organized by Staten Island Borough president James Molinaro to voice their concerns with FEMA officials about the runaround they are getting from the government. You don’t understand, runaround is what government does.

FEMA works with state agencies and volunteer organizations to determine what is appropriate for the community,” said FEMA spokeswoman Hannah Vick. “The temporary housing units are not necessarily a good option,” she said, citing the space they occupy and the need for water and sewer hookups.

The Free Beacon asked if FEMA has heated trailers available.

FEMA has all different resources available that we stage all across the country,” Vick said.

When asked what could be done for Brooklyn residents living in sewer-filled, condemned homes, Vick responded, “You want to make sure they register for disaster assistance.

Hurricane Sandy hit on November 1. That’s 36 days ago.

Folks in Ohio learned a while back that Ohio was cutting back their food stamp allowance by $50, as the price of food rises at the supermarket. The government may give you goodies, but the government can also end the giveaway.

Gerritsen Beach resident Lois Robb’s home was completely destroyed, she didn’t even have a spoon left. She was living with 11 other people in a cramped apartment and forced to sleep sitting up on a couch with four other adults. She was told by FEMA that she was eligible for a hotel stay. She finally found a hotel room in Manhattan after weeks on a waiting list because of hotel room shortages. She was told she had to leave after four days. She had to leave the hotel according to FEMA guidelines. She checked out and learned afterward that she was eligible for an extension. FEMA said the hotel made the mistake and the hotel told her FEMA made the mistake.

In Middletown, New Jersey, four thousand homes were damaged and 1,300 were uninhabitable. Many of the Middletown residents could not get rooms at the FEMA-approved Marriott as it was booked, so they chose to stay at the Comfort Inn. Families had to spend their own savings for their stay at the hotel, since the Comfort Inn was not a FEMA-approved hotel.

FEMA is still dealing with the impact of Tropical Storm Lee that over 14 months ago flooded homes in the town in Pennsylvania with the idle trailers.

After a month people in New York and New Jersey are still suffering. It’s cold, there’s no power and no heat, and the process of cleaning up will take a long time. But in the real world, don’t expect much from government. The bigger government gets, the more bureaucratic and less dependable it gets.




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