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Page 2 - the rest of the story

Posted Tuesday, April 29, 2008, at 7:29 AM

Abid Hussein of FEMA distributes flood information to Lela Brown, who lives on one of the Advance streets flooded on March 18, 2008. Though the Advance Recovery Center was closed on Saturday, April 26, residents may still register online or by phone until May 27, 2008.
My last week's blog about FEMA brought some unexpected reaction from the agency itself, so I took a further look into some of the remarks which I reported at that time.

In particular, a casual remark I reported on from an Advance Board of Alderman meeting sparked the agency to investigate the source and set the record straight.

One of the aldermen had repeated something a friend had told him - that one of the victims of the flooding had said all he received from FEMA was "$90.00 and a bottle of bleach." (Actually, he also mentioned a mop, but I didn't remember that...)

As is often the case, there is more to the story than meets the eye... The $90.00, the mop, and the bleach were actually given to the man by the Red Cross - not FEMA. This individual lived nowhere near a river but had 18 inches of water in a location which had never flooded before. FEMA did give him approximately $100, but, since he had insurance, he didn't qualify for more.

Jack Heesch, FEMA Public Relations Director for this area, gave me some recent figures, which I think are relevant to this discussion: As of yesterday, April 28, 2008, FEMA had registered 4,833 people in a 35-county area and dispersed $10.200 million in flood relief funds. In Stoddard County, 167 people are registered with FEMA. The Advance Recovery Center, which closed Saturday, registered 158 individuals from the surrounding area.

Though not all the claims have been processed, approximately 73 have received the maximum grants from FEMA - $28,000.

Jack Heesch reports that some homes are experiencing "repetitive damage," so the owners need to call FEMA and report this, as they may qualify for more assistance.

Heesch also emphasized that SBA (the Small Business Administration) is set up to handle the long-term recovery process with low interest loans - as I originally reported on my first FEMA blog. From what I understand, the Jackson and Piedmont recovery sites have been switched over to SBA for this purpose.

Here is the contact information for FEMA:

If you were affected by the floods -- even if the mess is all cleaned up -- call FEMA's toll-free registration line, 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585), from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, or register online at www.fema.gov. You may be eligible for help.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I do believe Big Brother is watching these blogs! Watch what you say!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, Apr 29, 2008, at 6:56 PM

HI BIG BROTHER...haha. Every government office has screwed someone over in some form or fashion that would get any normal people thrown in jail...none of them can deny that. Just look how FEMA turned down all them counties in Illinois...

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Apr 29, 2008, at 8:41 PM

Come on Madeline, all he received was $90.00, bleach and a mop. Did the person thank them or the taxpayers or the Red Cross? Where does anyone have the actual right to get anything? Should they give you more if you have insurance to cover the damages? Should the Red Cross? I don't know, but you should be thankful. Say thank you, please.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Wed, Apr 30, 2008, at 8:34 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
I.B., you're being too subtle for me - I think I may be missing your point. You're saying that the man in question (the one with the $90, the mop, and the bleach) should be thanking the Red Cross for giving him this much aid, when he could have gotten nothing - right? Yet you said, "All he received was..."

I'm totally neutral in this issue...I really don't have an opinion, one way or another. I'm just reporting what I heard, and I got myself in trouble for repeating what the alderman said, so I wanted to make sure I printed a clarification.

This is all tax money, so, as U.S. taxpayers, we're footing the bill for this disaster, and I think FEMA wants to keep an eye on our money and not give it out wastefully.

I really think that this whole issue shows just how careful the agency wants to be, after the disasterous press they got during the Katrina catastrophe.

I didn't mean to be mean, I was just repeating the victim as you quoted him or her. I took it to mean that the person was upset about that, which I could understand in some cases I guess, but it seems that all I hear anymore is complaints and no thanks. It seems to me that everyone thinks there is some right to be given to and I just don't think that there is.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Thu, May 1, 2008, at 9:27 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Okay, that's what I thought you meant. It does seem ungrateful for someone to get money from FEMA and then complain that it isn't enough. We seem to expect so much from our government - and then we complain when they don't move fast enough.

Of course, they do collect our taxes for this very purpose...

Some people really know how to work the system -- and the rest of us pay for it.

GL, When I was a kid we had drills in school to hide under our desk to protect us from a surprise nuclear attack by the big bad USSR. One of my teachers told us that a major difference between the US and the USSR was that in the US we had freedom after speech, while in the USSR they had freedom before speech. The point being that expressing a politically incorrect opinion could have unpleasant consequences in the USSR. Several years ago I read a book written by a Russian who lived through the Stalinist era and then the Khrushchev regime and those that followed. He explained that you had to be careful of what you said at work, in public or over the telephone, but that everyone freely expressed their opinions in the privacy of their home or the home of friends.

We now know that the federal government is electronically monitoring every email and telephone call in the U.S., and it has access to your internet searches, etc., all without a warrant. And as MD has informed us, they are also monitoring blogs. You can be be be fired from your job, sued, considered suspicious, or even criminally prosecuted for being a free thinker and expressing a single unapproved "opinion" in the U.S.

The United States has progressed to the point that it is now mimicking Stalinist Russia: We are free to say what we think in the privacy of our home or those of trusted friends, but unless your mind is right like Winston's was in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" after he was subjected to treatment in Room 101, you need to be mindful of what you say in an email, over the telephone, in the workplace or in any public place. Otherwise, you too might have the opportunity to experience Room 101.

-- Posted by FJGuy on Sat, May 3, 2008, at 1:09 PM

ACK! Let's hope you're wrong about Room 101! I can't believe we've reached that point in this country. I don't doubt that there are some Stalinist bureaucrats working in the inner sanctum of the government, but, hopefully, we have enough checks and balances (and rational people) to keep them from taking control.

That's an interesting point about "freedom before speech" and "freedom after speech." I had to read the explanation in order to understand it, but there's a big distinction, isn't there? What's the good of having "freedom of speech," if you're thrown in jail after you speak?!

-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, May 4, 2008, at 8:10 AM

I don't think the government is monitoring my email or telephone calls without a warrant. Sounds like a little bit of scare tactics or political rhetoric to me. If they are monitoring me, I would say there is a reason. They don't have the time, funds or people to monitor all our calls and emails.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sun, May 4, 2008, at 4:44 PM

I hope you're right, but it's getting easier and easier, with the improvements in technology. J. Edgar Hoover would have been in 7th Heaven with the gadgets available nowadays!

I hope that "Enemy of the State" never becomes a reality!

-- Posted by goat lady on Tue, May 6, 2008, at 9:17 PM

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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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