FEMA Data Shows Break­down Of Dis­as­ters In County

McDonald County Press - - COUNTY - Sally Car­roll McDon­ald County Press scar­[email protected]

A his­tor­i­cal look at fed­er­ally de­clared dis­as­ters in McDon­ald County pro­vides some in­sight at the kind and cause of such in­ci­dents over the last 65 years.

In­for­ma­tion re­cently re­leased by FEMA and shared by the McDon­ald County Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency out­lines weather in­ci­dents that are fed­er­ally de­clared dis­as­ters.

The in­for­ma­tion is avail­able at www.fema.gov/data-vi­su­al­iza­tion-dis­as­ter-dec­la­ra­tions-states-and-coun­ties.

McDon­ald County Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency di­rec­tor Gregg Sweeten said the in­for­ma­tion in­cludes a list of such dis­as­ters since 1953. His­toric fed­eral dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tions are avail­able by state, county, haz­ard and year.

Dur­ing the last 65 years, McDon­ald County has ex­pe­ri­enced 21 de­clared fed­eral dis­as­ters, in­clud­ing 11 se­vere storms, five floods, four ice storms, and one sit­u­a­tion which en­tailed rem­nants of a hur­ri­cane, he said.

For his­tory and weather buffs, the in­for­ma­tion is a gold­mine. The data out­lines cer­tain weather events and what year they oc­curred.

For in­stance, in past years, McDon­ald County ex­pe­ri­enced a large snow­fall that re­sulted in a fed­eral dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion.

More re­cently, from late 2015 to early 2016, the county ex­pe­ri­enced three dif­fer­ent de­clared dis­as­ters, Sweeten said.

A weather in­ci­dent case en­tails col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion, mak­ing an as­sess­ment, fil­ing pa­per­work and more. A case in­volv­ing a 2015 flood just closed in Septem­ber, he said.

Af­ter an in­ci­dent, Sweeten, a FEMA rep­re­sen­ta­tive and a state of­fi­cial visit and as­sess the dam­age.

When a dis­as­ter oc­curs, the county first has to reach its mone­tary dam­age as­sess­ment thresh­old, and the state has to reach its $8 mil­lion mone­tary thresh­old be­fore the gov­er­nor can ask the pres­i­dent for fed­eral aid dol­lars.

McDon­ald County’s thresh­old is $87,253.74, which is $3.78 per per­son mul­ti­plied by the num­ber of peo­ple reg­is­tered in the last cen­sus, Sweeten said.

Once of­fi­cials are sat­is­fied that the thresh­old has been met, progress con­tin­ues to move for­ward.

Some­times, even though a great deal of dam­age oc­curs, fed­eral aid dol­lars are not al­lo­cated. For in­stance, when the city of Good­man ex­pe­ri­enced a dam­ag­ing tor­nado in April 2017, the dam­age thresh­old was not met; there­fore, fed­eral aid was not ex­tended, he said.

Though in­ci­dents have oc­curred and some have been de­clared dis­as­ters in re­cent years, the county has quite a var­ied record over the years.

From 1973 to 1986, McDon­ald County did not ex­pe­ri­ence any fed­er­ally de­clared dis­as­ters, Sweeten said.

In the next few years — from 1986 to 1993 — more dis­as­ters be­gan to oc­cur.

How­ever, in re­cent years, num­bers have in­creased, due to flood­ing in­ci­dents. Flood­ing in the county has in­creased be­cause creeks and rivers aren’t be­ing dredged, he said.

Sweeten be­lieves it’s im­por­tant for res­i­dents to un­der­stand that the num­ber of dis­as­ters isn’t grow­ing be­cause of global warm­ing, but rather, be­cause creeks and rivers can’t be drained or dredged, due to con­straints placed by cer­tain reg­u­la­tions.

Sweeten be­lieves it’s im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion for McDon­ald County res­i­dents to know.

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