Unfunded FEMA projects create major concerns about how to handle emergencies

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KOKOMO, Ind. (March 3, 2015) - Rain and melting snow brought concern over potential flooding this week. Flood waters weren’t the only concern; city and town leaders across the state have to figure out how to handle emergencies, like flooding, without federal funding from FEMA.

FEMA has cut millions of dollars in funding for hazard mitigation across the state… all because of a dispute over a baseball stadium in Kokomo.

The stadium is blocking millions of dollars in funding across the state.  FEMA has pulled the plug on projects across Indiana.

“The hazard mitigation grant program is very important to the state of Indiana. We’re talking minimum, immediately, more than $6 million that’s being withheld from communities in Indiana,” said John Erickson, Director of Public Information for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

FEMA was already in the process of awarding nearly $5 million of the $6 million they’ve cut. 17 counties, at least in Indiana, now have to put projects on hold. Among them, $1.1 million for the city of Fort Wayne to purchase 18 properties that sit in flood prone areas; $500,000 for repairs to a flood prone bridge, used as an important route to and from a hospital in Hobart; and $2.2 million for a tornado safe room in a Washington County elementary school.

“I am angry over it. I was looking forward to and hoping to be able to get the safe room to help keep my students safe,” said Brent Minton, the Principle of Bradie Shrum Elementary School in Washington County.

In March 2012 a tornado that decimated Henryville, came within miles of Bradie Shrum. A FEMA grant was promised for the school, to build a tornado safe room. Now, that project will have to wait.

“If you want to do something with Kokomo and say you guys can’t have funding, your county can’t have funding, that’s fine. But don’t put the rest of us on hold in the state of Indiana and jeopardize us getting funds for projects and things that are needed,” said Minton.

If FEMA can prove that flooding in Kokomo is directly related to the construction of the city’s stadium, insurance claims for flooded property, can be withheld. Future FEMA funding will likely be determined through a court decision, on whether or not the stadium can be built.

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