November 23, 1996
Honorable Patty Murray
Thank you for your response to my flood inquiry.
Yes, I am aware of the SBA mitigation process. The process is part of the reason I wrote to you originally.
SBA normally limits the funds available for mitigation to 20% over the amount of the loss. The 'loss' amount is confined to items or property damaged in the flood and does not take into consideration market value or replacement cost. In simple terms loss is equal to the amount SBA will loan you, regardless of the actual loss.
In our case the maximum loan amount was computed to be $34,800 and the amount available for mitigation was set at 20% or almost $7,000.
Keep in mind this is a 'loan' and not a grant. It has to be paid back by individuals who have had a major loss. For us mitigation will cost over $45,000 so the SBA 20% allowance is merely a drop in a big bucket. Thanks to the willingness of the Sacramento SBA office we were able to arrange for more money, by taking funds that were directed at flood repair/replacement and combining them with the 20% we were able to identify $22,000 in SBA funds. That leaves us in a position of having to seek more funds from commercial banks before we can start mitigation.
When, and if we find funds, we will be in debt close to $50,000 more than we were the day before the flood. Of course, we could have taken another route, and simply let future floods damage our property and continue to make claims against our FEMA FIP insurance, and let the taxpayers as a whole reimburse us for continuous losses.
I am aggravated however, because lack of support from my local jurisdictions prevented me from having access to FEMA funds which other communities have made available to their residents.
FEMA has disaster assistance funds for mitigation. However they require that a municipality or political subdivision apply for the funds. In our case Grays Harbor County did not make application and hundreds of residents were left, not high and dry, but low and wet. Meanwhile in neighboring Thurston and Lewis counties, eligible residents have or can receive up to $30,000 each in grants, with no repayment required.
To add salt to already festering wounds, since we are paying for our mitigation with our dollars, we get to pay SALES TAX on top of the cost of the mitigation repairs. Somehow this just does not seem ethical, and it certainly isn't logical. Why should a flood damaged family have to pay an additional 8&, out of borrowed money, to simply replace or protect that which they lost? I've not calculated our entire bill, but since we have already spent $24,000 in repairs and have another $50,000 in mitigation, I expect we have unfairly paid $3,000 to $4,000 in sales tax.
If I may go on, I hope you get the opportunity to investigate the actions of the Flood Action Council in Lewis County Wa. They have proposed, at taxpayers expense, $100 million in mitigation effort to protect their community and business area on a river which fed our flood! The Chehalis is but one of many rivers and Lewis County is but one of three flooded counties, yet as close as they are to the headwaters, every attempt of theirs to move water downstream faster and sooner, will do nothing but cause additional flooding in the rural communities downstream.
Certainly in this day and age, we do not need to reinvent the disasters which have visited the Mississippi and other eastern rivers, yet, if they are allowed to proceed, they are protecting their assets at the cost of real estate, property and human life downstream.
Thank you for your time and effort. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this with you at your convenience.
7475 State Route 12
"As scarce as the truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand" - Josh Billings
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