One of the things about working for the government is that suddenly all this military language is used to describe me. It makes it even more true that working for the government is like being in the army only without the guns. Until I am deployed, I am demobilized. And I am in non-pay status.
It’s been about 10 days since I got back from orientation. Orientation was good. There isn’t really much to say about it, since to much was just listening to people talk about FEMA. I did find out a few things though.
First of all, FEMA actually provides rather little in the way of direct help. Most of what it does is coordinate agencies to resolve issues. So, for example, you may get public assistance which involves hooking up the Red Cross with local agencies like churches to get water to people who need it.
The other thing FEMA does is provide money. This is the thing most people are familiar with. FEMA provides grants, but if your income is sufficient, they refer you to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a low-interest disaster loan. SBA reviews the paperwork like a regular loan application, so lots of people don’t qualify and get sent back to FEMA. Which is fine, but it IS a time delay because of the extra processing.
The grant has a total cap on it of about $33,000. No matter how much damage you have to your house or what it costs you to stay in a hotel, the most you will get for everything is that limit. It’s not designed to bring you back to your pre-disaster standard of living, it’s designed to make sure your home is safe, sanitary and habitable. So you lost, for example, a 72″ TV in the living room, another TV in the master bedroom, and one in each of the kids’ rooms. Sorry, but you’re not going to be compensated for all that. That’s what insurance is for. You now have no TVs, FEMA will provide one TV because it is considered necessary, and it will probably be 24″ or so.
If you get the grant, FEMA will tell you how you can spend it, and they will look for receipts later. So if you get money to fix your roof, don’t use it for debris removal. You won’t be given more money to fix the roof until you show appropriate receipts, and debris removal receipts will not work. You may even be asked to repay the award!
I have also learned some things about disasters in general. Pets, for example. Since pets are so important to people, they are often evacuated with their families. However shelters are not prepared to take on pets, so special animal facilities are set up. There is only one thing: You need proof of rabies vaccination to drop off your pet. So that is a good reason to keep up with your pet’s shots.
Otherwise, it was a good training. I ate well. I slept well. I had time in the evenings to take a couple online art courses. I saw my friends Bryan and Andy who have moved to Maryland a while ago. I like travelling so it was fun.
Now I am back, waiting to be deployed. Not that I wish bad things for people, but I am eager to get going with it. Hope I get called soon! I want the adventure.