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FEMA denies Pence's appeal for flooding disaster funds

October 21, 2015

The Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected Gov. Mike Pence's appeal to reconsider its denial of disaster aid to 19 counties that suffered damage from strong storms earlier this year, officials said Wednesday.

The money would have helped pay for an estimated $11 million in infrastructure damage that resulted from the flooding and devastation from the series of storms that blew through the state from early June through late July. Pence's office attributes 10 deaths to the storms, which also destroyed crops.

In order for the funding to be issued, FEMA needed to declare a "major disaster" had occurred, which the agency declined to do. That prompted Pence to file the appeal earlier this month.

At issue is the way agency views the storms. FEMA determined that the destruction was the result of two periods of extreme weather, instead of one continuous event.

Because there was at least a 72-hour break in the storms, Indiana did not meet the requirements for a federal disaster, the agency said at the time.

In his appeal, Pence disputed FEMA's characterization of the storms, insisting that the prolonged period of extreme weather was, in fact, one continuous event. He cited data from the National Weather Service to bolster his claim while arguing that FEMA's decision was arbitrary, erroneous and inconsistent with the way it treats other states.

If Indiana had received the federal money, it would have gone toward paying for 75 percent of damaged infrastructure in those areas, including damage to roads, bridges, parks and water control facilities. The money could also could have been used to pay for debris removal and traffic control.

Counties included in the request were Adams, Allen, Benton, Brown, Clark, Fulton, Huntington, Jay, Jefferson, Jennings, Marshall, Newton, Pulaski, Scott, Vermillion, Wabash, Warren, Washington and Wells.

It wasn't immediately clear if Pence planned to take some other form of action to seek federal help.

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