FIRE or FEMA – Which Is Worse?
Here I am, almost five months after the United State Forest Service (USFS) committed negligent arson by starting a prescribed burn which instantly ran out of control and their wildfire burned me out of house and homestead. All I have to show for it is a measly $179.82 recently paid out by FEMA for repairs to make my totally destroyed home "safely habitable".
This pittance payment–awarded only after an incompetent FEMA field inspector–a "professional" field inspector which could not manage to put her own vehicle into 4x4 mode to drive across a long mud puddle about fifteen-hundred feet from the gate to the south tract of my property–expressed doubt that it was my full-time residence. My brother-in-law had to do both things for the poor simp after she got her vehicle stuck in the mud. Then the field inspector groused about that and did not want to conduct the field inspection after he drove her vehicle across the mud puddle for her. The incompetence at FEMA is astounding.
Now FEMA wants me to hire a contractor to come out and assess my totally destroyed house to provide an estimate for repairing it to "safely habitable" condition. And in the letter requesting this estimate, FEMA has declared the heating systems, septic systems, and well for the house "N/A". Staying warm, managing waste water and having drinking water are "N/A" in an estimate for repairing my totally destroyed house? More incompetence.
There are six problems I see with this request: 1) the heating systems consisting of a wood-burning stove and four expensive propane gas heaters were all destroyed by the fire and are anything but "N/A", 2) the underground portions of the septic systems may not be damaged but all above ground connections definitely are and cannot be repaired free of charge, 3) the well may or maynot be impacted by the fire, only a test of its water will reveal that, 4) the house and all of its contents were completely destroyed by the fire beyond repair or recovery (as my insurance company has already determined and fully documented), 5) the forestland surrounding the steeply sloped homesite is completely decimated by fire, leaving a blackened, skeleton forest standing on bare ground no longer carpeted by pine needles, deciduous tree leaves, grasses, ferns, fungi, etc. of any kind, and 6) there is ash everywhere for thousands of acres in every direction surrounding the homesite which is easily kicked up into the air by wind–air which inhabitants at the homesite must breathe.
In other words, the destruction is as complex as it is extensive and not readily repairable in any sense of the word. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has provided some relevant advice on the matter regarding flood and land stability issues following wildfire.
So even if the house is "repaired" (requiring complete demolition and removal of remaining structural elements and contents debris) the damaged land surrounding it now presents a real, present and lethal mix of threats to anyone attempting to live at the homesite, and to any structure they attempt to build and live in there. Blowing ash, flooding, landslides, mudslides, and debris flows all loom large and far into the future there. And even though FEMA is staffed and managed by real people with real feelings who are capable of understanding real-world problems, the people at FEMA are just too procedurally restricted and constricted to appropriately or even adequately address such complex issues as these. This asinine request for a contractor estimate for repairs to the totally destroyed house nestled in severely damaged wilderness proves it. Thanks to the USGS for some sound advice. No thanks to the USFS for anything. Severely disrupted wildlife may also present intensified dangers.
S.4186 The Hermit's Peak Fire Assistance Act is stalled in Senate, showing no progress in becoming law, much less funded law, since it was introduced five months ago. If it is ever enacted and funded, FEMA will be the agency responsible for doling out assistance funds to fire victims. All of this has forced me into a corner and now I'm in survival mode, fighting for my rights as a faithfully tax-paying citizen of the United States of America recently burned out of house and home by the United States Government. I've survived the fire. Now I just have to survive FEMA.
I have a bad, steadily mounting feeling FEMA is much more dangerous than the wildfire was.