Stating Milwaukee cannot wait for FEMA; that July 22 flooding victims need help now, Ald. Ashanti Hamilton urged city and county officials to explore using community development block grant funds or other funding options.
Hamilton said the funds could be used to help flood victims replace vital items such as hot water heaters and air conditioners, as well as find long-term housing for those left homeless because of the damage.
(Hamilton’s statement was made days before FEMA’s Tuesday, August 17 announcement denying the city’s request for individual aid for flooded out homeowners.–Ed.)
“We must recognize—we are still in emergency mode,” Hamilton said in a recent press statement two days after he held a community meeting at the Lincoln Park Pavilion, which was filled to capacity, with residents who listened to citizens complain about the city’s inadequate response to their plight.
“The recovery process must be treated with the same sense of urgency and importance as the floods themselves were,” Hamilton continued, adding that as a result of the discussion during the meeting, he is proposing a number of initiatives to help facilitate the recovery process while maintaining an emergency mode of thinking to best help those affected.
“I’ve made it clear to city officials that it is unacceptable for the city to be harassing property owners and others with condemnation letters and other orders,” Hamilton said.
“This is not the time for us to be causing more pain and worry for those who have suffered catastrophic losses.
Hamilton has asked Mayor Barrett to order a waiver and/or defer demolition charges and other related charges for those who have either lost their home or face major repair and remodeling costs.
“We must allow resident time to make needed repairs while we await a final response from FEMA about assistance and/or insurance companies’ responses,” he said.
Hamilton has called for the continuation of free debris pickups by city sanitation crews in the hardest hit areas. The free pick-ups were to have ended last Friday. However, its been reported that the city has extended the pick-ups indefinitely until further notice.
Hamilton also asked officials to explore the possibility of allowing displaced and homeless flood damage victims to reside in some of the city’s thousands of unoccupied, foreclosed homes. “We should not abandon these residents—many of them families with young children. We need to explore all options the help provide them with long-term, stable housing.”
The alderman called on the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) to “look hard” to find ways of avoid similar devastation because of failed sewer system.
“It is completely unacceptable to have a system that is supposed to prevent horrible basement flooding and backups actually be responsible for causing the heartbreaking devastation,” Hamilton said.
Realizing the stress the days and weeks since the storms and flooding occurred has taken an incredible emotional tool on residents, Hamilton recommended citizens utilize Milwaukee County’s behavioral health division, which helps crisis victims deal with the stress.
The division’s 24-hour crisis line is 257-7222. Hamilton said he wants a citywide meeting with the mayor, county executive, community leaders, community-based organizations and other officials to discuss these proposals and other courses of action.
November 18, 2015 //
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