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FEMA Aid Needs To Be Publicly Discussed by Sioux Falls City Council

Photo by Jarret Cofer

The picture above is of the tornado which devastated Moore, Oklahoma, Monday May 20, 2013. In Sioux Falls, our local elected officials have a chance to “stand tall” and do the right thing for us, and the country.

In April Sioux Falls was hit with a major ice storm. Thousands of trees were damaged and power was out for many residents. There was no major damage to private property and minimal damage to public property. Nobody died and no serious injuries were reported.

As the ice was melting, local officials alerted the governor to the possible need of assistance from the state and federal government to deal with the situation. Governor Daugaard acknowledged the alert and forwarded it to Washington.

The clean up has gone very well. A coordinated effort from city, county, and state resources, and with the assistance of private contractors, the city was functioning normally very quickly. A testament to the professionalism and leadership at the local level. We owe these people a standing ovation.

Estimates from city staff put the cost of clean up at $10 million. Not petty cash. However, the city has been able to pay all existing bills and appears to have enough money to pay the final clean up costs, without having to dip into reserves the city is required to keep on hand.

More good news – the city has not had to cancel any planned projects for this year, or next. No city employees have, or will have to be laid off. No city services will have to be curtailed as a result of the storm and clean up.

In other words, we were able to handle this problem locally with local resources.

I have written about this situation before. I don’t think the city should  take FEMA  money, because we don’t need it. If major damage had been done to our infrastructure, water, sewer, streets, public buildings and we had to spend down much of our reserves and cancel important projects, the situation would be different.

Taking money from FEMA is wrong because 42 cents of each dollar we would receive would be borrowed, further burdening the country’s financial woes, and adding to the debt we are piling on our children. We should not take borrowed money to pay for something we have been able to pay for ourselves from our own resources.

And finally, we should not take the money because there are other disasters happening in this country where major damage to public and private structures, and injury and death have occurred. As I write this, Moore, Oklahoma has been devastated by a huge tornado. Nothing horrible happened here. We were inconvenienced for a few days. That is all.

Others are suffering much more than we did. They need and deserve FEMA assistance. We don’t.

Call Mayor Mike Huether  at 367-8800 and the city council at 367-8080(Michelle Erpenbach is the Chair) and tell them what you think on this subject.

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