Makes me think of the Wizard of Oz a little. Only Dorothy didn’t have a storm warning, she wasn’t told to get out, and no agency offered her emergency grant money to make her journey to Oz and to buy apples along the way. But wait. Dorothy was only dreaming, after all.
If only I could click my heels three times and have it all be a dream.
It’s not a dream at all. It’s not even a fairy tale. It’s a real nightmare.
Even so, I would obediently rob Peter to pay Paul if we really do owe FEMA this money.
Meanwhile, I sit and wait for the documentation in order to enter into the Appeals and Waiver process, which remember, has to be done in under 60 days. I sit and worry and wonder how many other people who can’t even rob Peter to pay Paul are going to pay back $2000 that the government willingly gave them in their time of need.
Heck, we never would have gone begging for that money, but every news broadcaster around was urging people to take the money. Take the money. TAKE THE MONEY.
Did we spend it willy-nilly? No. Were we able to come right back home after Katrina and Rita? No. For Rita, we were displaced to another city for six weeks. I’m not complaining, just stating the facts, so please don’t be like my friend who said to me back then, “Well, I don’t think the government should be helping ANYONE who lives down the bayou. Y’all choose to stay there, and that’s all there is to it. If y’all want to stay down there where it floods, then do it on your OWN dime. NOT MINE.”
Uh, no. We’re not friends any more.
Sure, I have more flexibility than most of the bayou folks; but if some of us don’t stay here and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, then what will they do? I just can’t walk away and write off their whole value, culture and way of life.
But that’s not what this post is about.
This is about a government agency that offered a helping hand to millions of people who evacuated—some legitimately and some fraudulently. While they are coming after me for legitimate funds, are they also going after all those who took millions of dollars fraudulently? I wonder.
And by the way, in case it hasn’t occurred to you yet, YOUR (and my) tax dollars are now paying FEMA to review all these 2005 cases, write and mail out all these letters, and then do all the follow-up necessary to collect the money. And if we don’t pay within 60 days, then the debt will be sent to a collection agency, which our tax dollars will also pay for.
So consider for a moment if FEMA had done their job right in the first place, they would not be back-tracking and spending billions of dollars trying to recoup all this money. And let’s go ahead and wonder just how much they are hoping to recover? Will it even be enough to cover the expenses of collecting said over payments?
My American Countrymen and Women, this would be ludicrous if it wasn’t so egregious. Of course, there are lots of other under-used and aptly descriptive words that could be applied to the way this federal emergency agency mismanaged its distribution of emergency grant funds to people who really just wanted to be back home anyway, no matter how bad the conditions.
What prompted me to share this with you was the viewing of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” yesterday afternoon with a good friend. No matter how bad it was living in the town of Bathtub below the river levee system, those poor folks just wanted to stay home, be left alone to live their lives the best way they knew how. Some folks, as shown in the story, would rather be home dealing with flood waters, than jammed into a shelter like sardines. Even little six-year-old Hush Puppy, (played by a local Houma girl), knew what it felt like to be forcibly removed from her home before a storm and the value of standing her ground and returning home.
If you dare to go see the film, maybe it’s showing near you soon. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but you might want to bring the tissues.
We evacuees really appreciate the help all you tax payers and the federal government offered us in a dire time of need and uncertainty. We don’t appreciate them asking for the money back--especially since we have endured and passed through two more sets of storms since 2005, two more tropical storms, and the country’s largest oil spill ever. Wait a minute. I wonder if three years from now, they are going to be asking folks to give them back the grant money they gave them for the Hurricanes Gustave and Ike that happened in 2008?
Only the Wizard of Oz knows the answer to that. I’m off to follow the yellow brick road to find out.