When disaster strikes, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is a first responder. In fact, FEMA’s mission is, “to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards” (www.fema.gov/about-fema). With this statement in mind, news of FEMA’s dealings with Collier County in Florida is disappointing—at the very least.
In an odd turn of events, Commissioners have approved the motion to recover several million dollars’ worth of FEMA funds. The funds under question were sent to counties who were ravaged by the hurricanes Wilma and Katrina and total up to an incredible $80 million dollars.
FEMA’s fight to recover this $80 million is occurring to numerous counties. One county in particular is Florida’s very own Collier County. After its hurricane experiences, Collier County was approved for approximately $31 million dollars in disaster relief funds. In reality, Collier County will only receive about $20 million of the approved $31.
Because of this “recall” on FEMA’s funds, Collier County has to give up the other $11 million which was previously designated to them. While the county can attempt to fight FEMA and its commissioners in order to keep the funds, there is no guarantee that Collier County will be victorious.
In fact, this battle may be one that Collier will have to lose in order to ensure funds for any future hurricanes. While FEMA is fair and will fund relief efforts according to the extent of the damage, it is one organization that Collier County (or any of the affected counties) cannot afford to cause trouble for. In fact, the entire situation is a precarious one. We certainly hope that everything works out for the affected counties and for FEMA itself as this is hurricane season and the real focus should be on any future damage!