FEMA picks winners, losers for wildfire recovery

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: August 28, 2012

Another disaster, another snub by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

In the latest example of FEMA selectivity, the early August fires in Creek County were worthy of federal government help and the fires at the same time elsewhere in Oklahoma weren't.

Gov. Mary Fallin requested federal aid for fire victims in Cleveland, Oklahoma and Payne counties. Washington nixed it. Fallin called the decision “bureaucratic” and cruel. She plans to appeal. Based on experience, the appeal won't work. As for being “bureaucratic,” that goes with the territory. FEMA is a quintessential bureaucracy.

Administrator Craig Fugate is ultimately responsible for determining which disasters qualify for help and which ones don't. A purely political approach to disaster declaration would reward states whose voters are in line with the current presidential administration and punish those who aren't. A more rational approach is supposedly used by FEMA.

Fugate said the agency determined that damage in the three snubbed counties “was not of such severity and magnitude to warrant” FEMA intervention. Tell that to a Luther (Oklahoma County) resident who's now homeless and feels every bit as affected as a Mannford (Creek County) resident living in a campground because fires took his home.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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