Northern Missouri Congressman Sam Graves says some flood victims from last year could be victimized twice if Congress doesn’t act. Graves says the Federal Emergency Management Agency is attempting to reclaim some federal disaster assistance it allocated last year.

Flooding in Crag, MO (Photo courtesy of Brent Martin)

“This may not be a whole lot of money to FEMA, but in one case I know for instance it was $12,000 for an individual to be able to fix their home, to be able to repair their home, and then what happens is FEMA comes back and says we gave that to you mistakenly; we want it back,” Graves tells Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph.

Graves says the problem seems to be most pronounced in Holt County, especially in the city of Craig. He says the problem arose when the state of Missouri made two separate flood disaster assistance requests to the president that created a 15-day gap in which victims weren’t technically eligible for federal aid.

The bill Graves is pushing would not apply to efforts by FEMA to recoup federal disaster assistance obtained through fraud.

“These are not fraud situations. These are individuals, through no fault of their own, they applied, they were told that they should apply, and FEMA granted them those dollars,” according to Graves. “And, then, to come back and say that well, now you have to pay it back is just flat out wrong. And so, what we have said is if this is not the fault of the individual, if this is FEMA’s fault, then FEMA’s going to have to bear it.”

Concerns about the coronavirus have dominated Washington, D.C. and delayed work on other issues. Graves’ legislation made it out of the Transportation Committee in February, then got pushed aside as Congress worked to address the pandemic.

A spokesman for the Congressman says Graves hopes to revive the measure whenever Congress returns to regular order and will push for flood action in the United States House.

By Brent Martin of Missourinet affiliate KFEQ in St. Joseph

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