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Arlington Seeks FEMA Funds for Derecho Clean Up

by Katie Pyzyk July 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm 2,543 27 Comments

Arlington is hoping to receive some federal funds to cover the hundreds of thousands of dollars it spent during emergency response to the June 29 derecho storm.

County Manager Barbara Donnellan got the ball rolling by declaring a local emergency on June 30. Nearly 50 other Virginia localities did the same. Yesterday, Governor Bob McDonnell formally requested assistance for the state from the the Federal Emergency Management Agency, estimated at $27.5 million. Now it’s up to President Obama to either approve or deny the disaster funding.

Jack Brown, Director of the Arlington County Office of Emergency Management, explains that to be eligible for federal funds, the county must incur more than around $700,000 in expenses. So far, the bill from the June storm adds up to approximately $802,000, which includes costs for personnel, equipment and debris removal. The total could increase as more numbers are finalized.

Brown offers a reminder that there’s a lot of paperwork and a long review process involved, and that reimbursements filter in gradually once approved.

“They don’t just cut one check for the whole amount,” he said. “We went through this after the huge snowstorms of 2009 and 2010. It’s about a year long process.”

Arlington didn’t get all the funding it requested following those snowstorms, but it fared better than many surrounding jurisdictions, according to Brown. He credits all of the individual departments involved for collecting and sorting the receipts and data that had to be submitted. The county received a total of $1.6 million, covering one storm in December 2009 and two in February 2010.

Although receiving reimbursements often involves an arduous process, Brown said the end result makes up for it.

“Once we know there has been a federal declaration, then we would go through the process with FEMA and the state, and go through all those records,” said Brown. “But it’s worth it at the end of the day.”

For now, Brown said the county continues to calculate its expense requests from the derecho, while waiting for word from the President.

“Other areas of the country were hit harder than we were with different storms, so we’re all just waiting,” said Brown.

  • James Moron

    Ah, the federal dollars. God forbid we would actually need to be accountable to the local tax base for things like storm clean up and streetcars.

    I’m not saying that FEMA has no role, but it feels silly to be relying on federal funds for streetcars and clean-up when we’re in a fiscal crisis.

    • Mario

      I think it’s mostly to pay for overtime. And extra costs of hauling stuff out of the street. So, basically all overtime.

      • James Moron

        That’s fine, but why do we need to tap the bankrupt federal government for that?

        • poweroutage

          amen.

        • Greg

          Because if we don’t, somebody else will. Also, Arlington County residents pay more than their fair share of federal taxes so I have no problem accepting money from the federal government I gave to them.

          • UA

            Fair Share.. I love it.. LOL…

    • drax

      We’re not in a fiscal crisis.

    • Josh S

      What do your comments even mean?

      “God forbid we would actually need to be accountable to the local tax base….”

      ?

      I just don’t understand this at all. Accountability? Huh?

  • James Moron

    Brownie, you did a heck of job.

  • CW

    What’s the estimated value of the melted frozen yogurt?

    • nom de guerre

      One half of the total of spoiled hamburger and pizza ingredients.

  • Chris M.

    One of the wealthiest, not to mention solvent, counties in the country wants to get money from another government body that is $16,000,000,000,000 in debt. Nice!

    • CW

      On one hand, that does sound outrageous. But on the other hand, that’s like arguing that the wealthy shouldn’t be able to send their kids to public schools. We pay into the system like everyone else – moreso, in fact, due to the wealth – and should therefore theoretically be able to take out, right?

    • Douglas Parker

      Amazingly we’ll be in the ‘red’ next year too. Arlington has a FY2013 budget shortfall!!

      Way to be Arlington – fiscally unsound and spending more than you bring in, even in this ‘strong’ economy.

      What a fine example we’re setting in these times of fiscal uncertainty…

      • Wayne Kubicki

        Douglas – FY13 just started 24 days ago. How do you know there will be a budget shortfall?

        • Douglas Parker

          Hi Wayne. I found it several weeks ago when I googled Arlington County’s budget, which is available online. Here is what it says verbatem:

          • FY 2013 County Revenue/Expenditure
          Gap – $10 to $12 million
          – Revenue Growth – 2%
          – Expenditure Growth – 3%

          But have a look, it’s quite interesting! (albeit sad that we can’t operate within our means).

          • Jeff

            That’s not the budget that was adopted. The budget adopted is balanced. Check the dates on the documents you are looking at.

          • DP’s Brain

            D’Oh!!

    • drax

      So you’re going to forego SS payments when you retire because you won’t be in debt then, huh Chris?

  • Paul

    How does a county government “lose” money due to a storm? Sure, Arl County probably *spent* more on overtime than it normally would on a June weekend, but that’s spending money, not “losing” money. I’m sure businesses that lost power and had to throw out thousands of dollars in inventory and lost tens of thousands of dollars in business that weekend (some of it uninsured) are pulling out the world’s tiniest violin for the plight of the county.

    • drax

      The article never uses the word “lose.”

      • DoroSpencer

        The first version of this article used the word “lost” in place of “spent” in the first sentence.

        This site needs to do better with article updates. When an update is indicated at the top of an article, the updated sections need to be indicated somehow. When editorial corrections are made as in this case, the struck words should be left with the strikethrough. Lots of other blogs do that.

        It prevents uninformed posts like yours.

        • darsasx

          Nothing prevents uninformed posts from him. Ever.

    • Greg

      If you spend money, that’s money that is lost. I’m not even sure I can see a semantics angle to your post that makes sense.

      • Paul

        My point is that governments do not live by the recognized rules of profit and loss. If P&L is the standard, then the county “loses” money every single day because it does not engage in profit-making activities. It simply *spent* more than it anticipated due to a storm.

        The only way the county could “lose” money is if made a bad investment where it expected a return, or to merely break even. Artisphere anyone?

  • JnA

    FEMA funds will go to the J Walter Tejada Indoor Soccer Stadium, via FY 2013 closeout.

  • Tajeda has to go !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! a Way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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