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BILL IN CONGRESS WOULD LET FEDERAL DISASTER FUNDS BE USED TO FIGHT CATASTROPHIC WILDFIRES

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 21, 2014 (Washington D.C.) – The U.S. Forest Service warns that this year could bring a catastrophic fire season in the Southwest with estimated that firefighting costs of $1.8 billion this year for the Interior Department overall – that’s nearly triple the amount of money available to fight fires.

LOCAL REPUBLICANS VOTED FOR RYAN-BILBRAY BUDGET THAT DRASTICALLY REDUCED DISASTER RELIEF AND PREPAREDNESS

November 2, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego’s local Republican Congressmen Brian Bilbray, Duncan Hunter and Darrell Issa voted for the Paul Ryan budget which would have deeply reduced emergency response and preparedness to disasters such as Hurricane Sandy and local wildfires. An analysis from Third Way says that the Ryan-Bilbray budget “would set the clock back on disaster preparation to the days before Hurricane Katrina.”

Mitt Romney, in a primary debate, called disaster relief “immoral” and said he would privatize FEMA.  Following Hurricane Sandy, he has sought to blur his stance, though his running mate’s budget would also have radically cut federal aid and hampered states’ abilities to respond when disasters strike.

U.S. GOVERNMENT ISSUES SURVIVAL TIPS AFTER DISASTER

CPSC, FEMA and USFA Warn About Deadly Dangers After Hurricane Sandy Passes

October 30, 2012 (Washington D.C.) -- For those of our readers with relatives in the path of Hurricane Sandy, here is some potentially life-saving advice from three federal agencies. These tips are also applicable to surviving other disasters, such as wildfires and earthquakes.

ROMNEY: DISASTER RELIEF FOR HURRICANE VICTIMS IS “IMMORAL"; CALLED FOR FEMA TO BE PRIVATIZED

Obama to Governors in path of Hurricane Sandy: "We will be there...making sure that we've got the best possible response."

By Miriam Raftery

October 28, 2012 (San Diego) – As Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms in memory, barrels toward the East Coast and wildfire season hits full stride here in San Diego's East County, voters should know that when asked about federal disaster relief at a debate among Republican primary presidential candidates, Mitt Romney called such spending “immoral.” 

FEMA, FCC TO HOLD NATIONWIDE TEST OF EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM NOV. 9

November 7, 2011 (San Diego)--On Wednesday, November 9 at  11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time,  the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System.

 

The test will last approximately 30 seconds and will be transmitted via television and radio stations across the U.S.

REPUBLICAN HOUSE VOTES TO SLASH FUNDS FOR DISASTER VICTIMS AS GOVERNMENT FACES POSSIBLE SHUTDOWN

 

3 local Congressional members vote to cut funds for disaster relief
 

Update: A stopgap measure has been approved to fund FEMA partially through Tuesday, but at lower levels than the agency says is needed.

September 23, 2011 (Washington D.C.) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will run out of funds early next week, leaving victims of recent tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires without help unless Congress takes action. Republicans in the House refused to approve a stop-gap spending bill passed by the Senate and instead, voted on their own bill with sharply reduced funds for the cash-strapped emergency response agency.

 

San Diego Republicans Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa all voted for the measure, which failed by a narrow margin. If no measure is passed by both houses soon, the government faces a potential shut-down and disasater victims may be left to fend for themselves.

FEMA ADJUSTS REFUND DEMANDS MADE TO MORE LOCAL FIRE VICTIMS

 Miriam Raftery

June 12, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) – Last week, as ECM reported, FEMA retracted its demand for Harris Fire survivor Veronica Lytle of Potrero to pay back disaster funds that FEMA had claimed were paid in error. Now FEMA informs ECM that 40 survivors of the 2007 California firestorms have been sent recoupment letters.

“FEMA received four appeals from applicants who were affected by disasters which occurred in San Diego County,” said a FEMA spokesperson who asked not to be named. “FEMA either rescinded or adjusted the amount identified for recoupment on three of the four appeals.”

FEMA BACKS DOWN, RETRACTS REFUND DEMAND TO LOCAL FIRESTORM SURVIVORS

 By Miriam Raftery

June 7, 2011 (Potrero) – Following intense media scrutiny and letters from federal and local elected officials, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has retracted its demand that Veronica Lytle of Potrero pay back over $1,600 in disaster funds that she received for damage to her home in the 2007 Harris Fire.

 "When I finally opened the letter I just couldn't believe it!" Lytle told East County Magazine (ECM).

 But the fate of 36 other local disaster victims who have been asked to refund money to FEMA remains unclear.

ELECTED OFFICIALS REACT WITH ANGER TO FEMA DEMANDING REPAYMENT FROM FIRE VICTIMS

By Miriam Raftery

May 15, 2011 (Potrero) – Local elected officials have reacted with outrage to news that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has sent a letter demanding money back from victims of the Harris Fire. ECM reported on May 12 that Donald and Veronica Lytle of Potrero are among 5,500 disaster survivors nationwide who have been ordered to repay disaster payments.

A FEMA representative who declined to be named admits to ECM that none of these requests involve fraud, but rather errors that FEMA says its representatives made.

 Now, Supervisor Dianne Jacob has pledged to contact FEMA and federal officials on behalf of the victims. In addition, Jan Hedlun, an elected member of the Potrero Planning Group, has sent a letter to FEMA urging that the demand be dropped--and providing an eye witness account of horrific conditions during the firestorm.

FEMA TO DISASTER VICTIMS: SEND BACK EVERY PENNY

Harris Fire survivors among thousands nationwide ordered to return money to FEMA

By Miriam Raftery

May 12, 2011 (Potrero) – Donald and Veronica Lytle are stunned after receiving a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) demanding that they return all of the $1,647.43 that FEMA paid them in 2007 for cleanup and temporary lodging after their home on Potrero Valley Road was damaged in the Harris wildfire. FEMA has offered no explanation for the demand, other than stating that the entire amount was an “overpayment.”

 

The Lytles say FEMA insists their home did not suffer fire damage--despite mounds of ashes blown inside and a hole knocked in the roof by a tree felled during a firestorm so extreme that it fueled its own weather system.

 

ECM editor Miriam Raftery visited Potrero during that firestorm and concidentally, interviewed the Lytles’ next-door neighbor—witnessing firsthand the devastation clearly caused by the horrific wildfire.

$40,000 FEDERAL GRANT PROVIDES DEFIBRILLATORS TO HELP HEART ATTACK VICTIMS IN SAN MIGUEL FIRE DISTRICT

February 23, 2011 (San Diego’s East County) -- San Miguel Fire District will add 20 Automatic External Defibrillators to its life-saving arsenal.

 

“The addition of the AED’s will provide critical care in a much more expedient manner,” said Leonard Villareal, spokesperson for the District. “Eighty percent San Miguel’s calls are medical aids. This additional equipment will be vital in helping to make such incidents more survivable for all members of the community.”

FEDERAL HELP FOR LOCAL FLOOD VICTIMS STILL PENDING

 

County Office of Emergency Services accepting applications from those who suffered storm damage while awaiting aid from FEMA

 

January 14, 2011 (San Diego) –San Diego Councilmember Marti Emerald said her office has been in daily contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA), pushing the agency to extend federal assistance to San Diego property owners swamped by recent rains and flooding.

 

“It appears the city qualifies for federal aid because of the amount of damage to public and private properties, but San Diegans are still asking when repair dollars will be available,” Emerald said in a statement issued today.

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