Snow Cleanup in Boston and Vicinity

What to do with the snow in Boston

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New GAO Report on Disaster Relief Payments

As many of you know first-hand, there have been many articles, studies, and law suits since H. Sandy about disaster relief payments. Here is a new report by the GAO: Disaster Relief: Agencies Need to Improve Policies and Procedures for Estimating Improper Payments

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Funding (sort of) for DHS

The original heading of this article was Clear Your Calendars: GOP Not yet Ready to Cave in on DHS.  [The U.S. has to be the laughing stock of the world.]  From the WashPost, on the potential effects of a shutdown of DHS.

Update: As of Friday at close to midnight, Congress voted for a 1-week extension of DHS funding.

Friday the Secretary of DHS released a 46-page Contingency Plan providing some specifics on how a hiatus in funding would impact each DHS agency and function.[Thanks to Phil Palin of HLSwatch for this info.]

Wash Post, Feb. 28 on the disfunction of the Republicans in Congress

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City of Boston Struggling to Get Disaster Declaration from FEMA

From an editorial in the Boston Globe: FEMA should recognize that Mass. needs help this winter. Here is the essence of the problem:

FEMA tends to provide relief for major, individual disasters, not the cumulative effects of smaller consecutive ones. That means that if FEMA decides to take a doctrinaire view of its mandate, it might provide relief only for some activities related to Juno — which was historic in its own right — but not for any other storm. Horowitz estimates that could leave Boston with only $6 million in federal aid, which would barely put a dent in the $35 million the Hub has already spent on storm cleanup this winter. But the federal government needs to recognize a disaster that unfolds in slow motion is still a disaster, and the conditions on the ground — including the Commonwealth’s need to borrow equipment from neighboring states — make it clear that this winter has overwhelmed the state’s ability to handle the cleanup by itself.

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Effects on FEMA of a DHS Shutdown – Comments by Fugate

FEMA head outlines what exactly will happen if DHS shuts down

Updates: 

From the New Yorker: Threats to Homeland Security. Best quote I have seen lately:

You can’t spend decades encouraging irrationality and ignorance, then declare a return to sanity when it’s convenient. The price lasts longer than an election cycle.

CBS news had this account today: 5 things that will happen if Congress doesn’t fund Homeland Security

FEMA employees will mostly report for duty: Johnson said in the same CNN interview that “something like 80 percent” of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) “permanent appropriated workers” would stay home. That statement ignores the fact that many of the agency’s workers aren’t funded through the annual appropriations process, according to a Factcheck.org review. The 2013 DHS report found that that 78 percent of FEMA’s 14,729 employees would stay on the job if the agency went unfunded. Plus, more than one-third of FEMA’s disaster workforce comes from reservists, according to a Government Accountability Office report, and they aren’t reliant on annual funding from Congress

Here is the NYTimes’ version of the story: Holding DHS Hostage.

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What Meteorologists Learned from H. Sandy

Better Prepared? What Meteorologists Learned from Hurricane Sandy
National Weather Service makes number of changes, but challenges remain in improving forecasts and communication with public

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Conflicts Inherent in the Nat’l Flood Ins. Program

Superstorm Sandy Victims Say FEMA’s Role Is Fatally Conflicted.  Some excerpts:

The National Flood Insurance Program has a public element, which helps people get money after a disaster to rebuild their homes. The private part comes when FEMA contracts with regular insurance companies.

This week, FEMA began settlement talks with homeowners devastated by Sandy, and there’s a lot to resolve.

Homeowners say engineers hired by insurance companies falsified damage estimates and that the homeowners aren’t being repaid for the actual damage that Sandy caused. Some are questioning whether FEMA can be a watchdog for both disaster victims and taxpayers who subsidize the federal flood program.

The problem arises when FEMA tries to protect the interests of its policy holders while it also makes sure they don’t get paid too much, says Ben Rajotte, a lawyer for the Disaster Relief Clinic at Touro Law

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