We share Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s disappointment and frustration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who on Tuesday denied the city’s request for individual aid for flood victims’ homes damaged in the July 22 storm; damage estimated at $50 million.
The reason: FEMA gives greater consideration to damage to first floors of homes or above.
Basement damage is given a “lesser affected” designation. Much of the damage to Milwaukee homes was to basements.
The basement doesn’t just contain the “mechanical” parts that make up a home: furnaces, electrical systems, washers and dryers.
For a majority of families, the basement serves as a gathering place for entertainment, storage space, offices that hold home businesses or workout areas. In some cases, it’s all of the above.
We believe FEMA must change the aforementioned policy regarding basements. In Milwaukee, our basements are a vital part of our homes; they are rarely empty spaces.
As Mayor Barrett said, FEMA must look at the reality of how people live, not only in Milwaukee but other Midwest and Eastern metropolises where the majority of homes have basements.
Gov. Doyle said he’ll appeal the decision. That’s good; he should appeal and, if necessary, take his appeal all the way to President Obama.
Homeowners who have suffered flood damage and forced from their homes need help NOW!
FEMA must reverse its decision and help people who, through no fault of their own, had their lives irreversibly changed by last month’s storm and flood.