FEMA Rejects Appeals Worth $1.2B Over a Decade

October 16, 2017

As U.S. communities ravaged by this year’s series of intense hurricanes and wildfires clear debris and begin to rebuild, many are counting on the federal government to help cover their costs. They could be in for a frustrating surprise.

If history is any guide, some local governments and nonprofit organizations could get less than they were told to expect from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Others could be asked years from now to repay some or all of the aid they received, if FEMA concludes the projects failed to comply with its voluminous requirements or decides it shouldn’t have approved the payouts in the first place.

Over the past decade, FEMA’s denials and reversals have caused uncertainty and anger in some communities, led to long rounds of appeals, strained local budgets, made it hard for some organizations to stay afloat, and occasionally delayed the rebuilding process.

“My word of advice for everybody is document, document, document,” warned a frustrated Mayor Orlando Lopez of Sweetwater, Florida. “Cross your t’s, dot your i’s and back up everything.”

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