FEMA And Funding for Damages to Churches
FEMA released a notice on January 30, 2018, pertaining to the eligibility of churches for disaster relief. The policy change to funding private nonprofit organizations was announced January 2, 2018. The change allows for assistance to PNP houses of worship to apply for FEMA assistance.
The Washington Post on January 4 published an article on the changes to the FEMA policy. At the end of the article, the Post permits comments. Some of the comments made were in opposition to the new policy. Responses from a couple of readers (one going by “Snoopy 26” and the other calling himself “leeh1”) address concerns that only Christian churches would be permitted to receive aid. FEMA in its notice included a non-discrimination clause which lists religion as one of the areas that could not be discriminated against. This would indicate that all faiths Jewish, Muslim as well as Christian could receive aid if they meet all the guidelines.
Another post made about the Washington Post article was made by a reader going by “bigb249” indicates that because churches are exempt from paying taxes should not be eligible for disaster funds. Churches can apply as a nonprofit group thus excluding them from paying taxes. However, other organizations that are not churches also are tax-exempt.
Let’s consider for a moment the organizations that are considered tax-exempt including churches. Most of these organizations participate in many areas of disaster relief to the public without discrimination. So, if these organizations are struck by disasters who should help them? Would you not be willing to help someone if they help you is the question that this reader should ask of themselves. Another question I would pose is if churches are not permitted to receive disaster aid by FEMA wouldn’t that be discriminating by religion (which is unconstitutional)? The last consideration dealing with this issue is the fact that the people who attend these churches do in fact pay taxes and should be eligible to receive funds to help with their loss.
Another article by WALB.com list some of the basic eligibility requirements for churches or house of worship to be eligible to obtain FEMA funding.
· The organization must have a private nonprofit status.
· Provide a service to the public that is approved by the government.
· Must first apply for a small business administration low-interest loan and have been denied or the funds were insufficient to complete the repairs.
These guidelines should also help settle people’s minds on the issues in my post.(Word Count 421)
EPA Hurricane Maria, 3/27/2018
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There is still recovery and clean up programs in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands from the effects of hurricane Maria. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has continued to collect and dispose of hazardous household waste in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Instructions on where to bring the waste and what they accept has even been advertised in videos produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The operation run by the United States Environmental Protection Agency is not only helping the recovery efforts from hurricane Maria but it is also keeping hazardous materials out of the environment, and protecting the community’s health. By removing these hazardous materials they no longer pose a threat to workers and civilians but remove the risk of the hazardous materials getting into the wastewater treatment systems. This is highlighting a political issue on the recovery of Puerto Rico and the after math of hurricane Maria. Many believed the United States was not helping Puerto Rico enough. Seeing that there are still operations in progress shows that not only is the United States still helping but the damage was far worse than what many thought. I would continue the operations we have in place and try to boost the economy of the areas affected. One of the biggest reasons it is taking a long time for recovery is Puerto Rico was a very poor state before hurricane Maria. This hurricane further devastated not only the economy but the physical structures of the state and communities as well. (255)
Northern California Wildfires, 4/2/18
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The people in Northern California are still recovering from the devastating fires that ripped through their homes and damaged their communities. Now they are left to dig through the homes to try and find any of their possessions that could have survived the fire. Why are we seeing an increase in the amount of homes and structures being destroyed in California now as opposed to previous years would be a question to ask? One of the reasons that this is occurring is that houses are being constructed in areas that are at a higher risk of being caught in a wildfire (Daniels, 2017). With new homes being built in areas that are at an increased risk of being torched by a wildfire, this could cause more concern from policymakers that deal with disaster relief. This is because now with an increased number of homes potentially being burned this raises the potential cost of the recovery efforts for wildfires. Due to extent of the damage that the wildfires in Northern California caused in early October of 2017, it will probably take years for the impacted communities to rebuild their homes and for cities to recover completely from these disasters (Ronayne, 2017). A potential policy question then becomes does a state or locality allow people to live in the areas that have an increased risk of being in a fire or does the state or locality outlaw its residents from being allowed to build their homes in these areas? One plausible response to this question is to make it the law that if someone is going to build a house or a structure in one of these areas that is at a higher risk for wildfires then they have to build it with flame-retardant materials. This way the residents of these houses get to live in the community that they want to even though it is in an area that is at an increased for wildfires, and these homes could be replicated down the streets so that it would be a model for the contractors to use for the neighborhood (Daniels, 2017). These houses and structures need to be required to have these fire-retardant materials, because it is the government that pays for part of the recovery efforts. If people are going to live in higher risk areas, then they need to take precautions to ensure that their houses are not going to get burned since they are at an increased risk of this occurring. This way the people who want to stay in the higher risk for wildfire areas can reside in these areas, but it is going to cost them more money in the construction of the house because of these increased building codes for the structure.
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Daniels, J. (2017, October 26). California begins ‘historic cleanup’ from fires but faces serious hurdles in rebuilding. Retrieved April 03, 2018, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/26/california-begins-fire-cleanup-but-faces-serious-hurdles-in-rebuilding.html
Ronayne, K. (2018, January 05). Northern California may need years to recover from wildfires. Retrieved April 03, 2018, from https://www.denverpost.com/2017/10/28/california-wildfires-recovery-could-take-years/
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