Apparently, community-crippling ice storms are not disasters, just epic inconveniences, according to the federal government's definition.
That much can be deduced after a federal disaster assistance request was denied Wednesday for Putnam and 38 other Indiana counties relative to this past winter's ice storm, authorities announced.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Wednesday informed the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) that a request for federal assistance concerning damage occurring from the Jan. 31-Feb. 4 ice storms in Indiana has been denied.
In addition to Putnam County, IDHS had requested federal public assistance for Benton, Boone, Brown, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Fountain, Franklin, Grant, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Jay, Madison, Marion, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Owen, Parke, Randolph, Ripley, Rush, Shelby, Starke, Sullivan, Tipton, Union, Vermillion, Vigo, Warren and Wayne.
Federal assistance would have meant that state government and local governments and certain non-profit organizations in the 39 counties would be eligible to apply for federal assistance to pay 75 percent of the approved cost of debris removal, emergency services related to the disaster and repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, buildings and utilities.
For example, the City of Greencastle recently totaled up its expenses involving just the project to dispose of limbs that fell as a result of the ice storm. That cumulative cost came to $19,999.96 (and that was before gasoline prices jumped to nearly $4 per gallon).
The city had hoped to recover 75 percent of the cost of those unbudgeted expenses. Now, however, it will have to find another way to adjust the Department of Public Works budget to make up for the $20,000 spent in the aftermath of the ice storm.