What To Expect From FEMA After A Disaster (Spoiler: It’s Not Good)
by Sara Tipton
Editor’s Note: There’s absolutely no shame in taking aid offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after a disaster – after, all, we’re all taxpayers – but you should never consider FEMA to be the totality of your preparedness plan. This article explains what you can expect from them – and for what you should never rely on them. ~ Daisy
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to get some “help” or disaster assistance from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) after a tragic natural disaster happens? Well, some know all too well just how much and how little FEMA does to help those who have lost almost everything. Spoiler: it isn’t good.
For years, we have stressed the importance of having a preparedness plan including a financial plan for when disasters erupt. In the book, The Prepper’s Blueprint, we walk the reader through a prepping regimen with a guide and easy to follow instructions and give beginning preppers a foundation to build on so that one doesn’t have to rely on government handouts.
Why Government Red Tape is Hurting Disaster Victims
FEMA doesn’t seem to want to bypass the red tape in order to help those residing in the lower income parts of Texas affected by hurricane Harvey. It’s been more than ten months since the hurricane devastated parts of Houston, and while middle-class and affluent neighborhoods are back to business as usual, those with less money are still struggling to get assistance from FEMA – or assistance is being denied because residents cannot afford the mandated flood insurance.
Part of the reason the wealthier people have their lives back could be the ability to save money on their own. They can also afford to comply with the law mandating flood insurance so their claims aren’t being denied as often. With money to spare in the event of an emergency, those who are more affluent don’t need to rely on FEMA (or any aspect of the federal government) regardless of how dire the situation becomes. But that leaves some families struggling to get what they need in the aftermath of a disaster because they don’t have the money to obey the law.
In nearby Kashmere Gardens, a 10,000 person neighborhood, FEMA has been less than useless. According to reporting done by Politico, nearly every street of the Kashmere Gardens neighborhood has homes that are gutted. Empty window panes reveal sparse interiors without walls, doors, or carpets. And because there’s nowhere to go, families still live in those homes. The challenges in Kashmere Gardens, where the median income is $23,000 per year, are not the result of any one policy or agency. They’re the consequence of a complicated, bureaucratic disaster-response system built up over decades that experts nearly universally agree is failing to provide critical support to low-income communities when a disaster strikes. In other words, as always, when it comes to government, they just don’t care about anyone.
A POLITICO investigation found that numerous low-income families were denied funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency because much of Kashmere Gardens was in a flood zone, and homeowners were thus required to carry flood insurance — a law that many of them were unaware of. Other families, struggling with language issues and inexperienced with the federal bureaucracy, simply couldn’t cope with a system that even FEMA officials agree is too complicated. Still others fell victim to shoddy contractors who took their money and failed to make repairs. –POLITICO
And the News Just Gets Worse
Those who took the time and made the effort to jump through hoops and go around the red tape of the bureaucratic nonsense and were able to comply with the law to purchase flood insurance were only getting a mere $4,300 from FEMA – not enough to make many repairs. And as many prepare for the 2018 hurricane season, which is expected to be worse than last year’s, the situation becomes all too important to resolve.
Even when FEMA does come through and somehow manages to provide food and shelter for those in dire situations, it becomes something many describe as an inescapable hell. “It’s not a safety net,” said Craig Fugate, who served as the head of FEMA for all eight years of the Obama administration and, like other FEMA veterans, believes the current system is too confusing. “The system is really designed for the middle class. It’s not designed to take care of the pre-existing conditions.”
The horrors of a FEMA disaster relief camp became all too real for those who lost everything in the East Coast’s Hurricane Sandy back in 2012. Americans were literally freezing while wrapped in blankets and trash bags as they struggled to survive in FEMA tent cities such as New Jersey’s “Camp Freedom,” (the irony of that name isn’t lost on many) which reportedly “resembled a prison camp.”
“Sitting there last night you could see your breath,” displaced resident Brian Sotelo told the Asbury Park Press. “At (Pine Belt) the Red Cross made an announcement that they were sending us to permanent structures up here that had just been redone, that had washing machines and hot showers and steady electric, and they sent us to tent city. We got (expletive).” The officials “in charge” also banned residents from taking pictures and cut off WiFi. “They treat us like we’re prisoners,” Ashley Sabol told Reuters. “It’s bad to say, but we honestly feel like we’re in a concentration camp.”
Sotelo also said Blackhawk helicopters patrol the skies “all day and night” and a black car with tinted windows surveys the camp while the government moves heavy equipment past the tents at night. Reporters were not allowed in the fenced complex or “FEMA camp” to report on conditions either, where lines of displaced residents formed outside portable toilets. Security guards were posted at every door, and residents could not even use the toilet or shower without first presenting an I.D. to a government official.
One of the worst places to be when you have nowhere to go is a FEMA camp. Don’t subject your family, especially if you have little kids, to the angry and hungry masses clumped together like cattle in those fenced in hells. Sure, many FEMA workers mean well, but they are not well funded and incompetent. At the end of the day, they are doing a job and getting paid for it, so their own survival trumps yours. Prepare for the worst and make sure you can survive on your own because, in the end, it may come down to having only yourself that you and your family can depend on.
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’” – President Ronald Reagan