Well, here we are again, hat in hand, asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider denying public disaster assistance funds to Newton County.


Well, here we are again, hat in hand, asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reconsider denying public disaster assistance funds to Newton County.

This time, the Newton County Commission is joining other officials in asking for funds to clean up debris left by the May 10 tornado. The county is seeking just under $7 million in expenses, including $4 million to $5 million to clean up storm debris.

Presiding Commissioner Jerry Carter is optimistic about the chances of obtaining funding for this work. In an interview Friday morning, Carter indicated that if the county could make a convincing case for funding, FEMA would reconsider.

We wish we could share that optimism, but after having the pleas of Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt and others denied, we can’t. It’s hard to remain positive when you’ve been turned down so many times.

FEMA refuses to listen to reason. They refuse to acknowledge that under the federal Stafford Act, they cannot turn down a request for financial assistance based on an arithmetic formula or sliding scale of income or population.

Incidentially, all other criteria for getting assistance have more than been met.

Recently, FEMA granted more than $13 million in public disaster assistance after tornadoes ravaged areas of Oklahoma and Arkansas.

What do they have that we don’t? We have hundreds of homes destroyed or left uninhabitable in the wake of this storm. We have hundreds of downed trees. We had dozens of snapped utility power poles. We had thousands of lives disrupted.

And, lest we forget, we had 14 people die as a result of this storm.

Like Carter, we are appreciative of the private disaster assistance provided by the federal government. These funds allowed many people to begin the process of rebuilding their lives.

But shouldn’t public entities have the same opportunity? Shouldn’t debris be disposed of in a lawful manner, rather than allowing to pile up on properties? Shouldn’t Newtonia get to rebuild their city hall that was destroyed in the storm? Shouldn’t the emergency entities who came to our aid be reimbursed for their expenses?

It seems some in government do not think so.

So FEMA, prove us wrong. Prove you do care. Give us a chance to rebuild and to put this tragedy behind us.

DAILY NEWS