In an article today titled, “Cash-Strapped States Feeling Burden of Snow,” Delaware and New Jersey lament how much money they have spent on snow removal this winter. With budget deficits hitting most states, those two states aren’t the only ones who will be looking for cash to pay for the snow removal. One source may by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) given its recent history of issuing declarations for these type of routine events.
In its entire 57 year history, FEMA has issued 293 declarations for “Winter Storms“. From 1953 to 1992, FEMA only issued 37 declarations for Winter Storms. These declarations accounted for only 13% of all Winter Storms declarations in FEMA’s history. As we have documented, starting in 1993, FEMA began issuing declarations for more and more events that historically had been handled entirely by the states.
The remaining 87% of Winter Storm FEMA declarations were issued over the last 17 years. Specifically, during Bill Clinton’s eight years in office, FEMA issued 108 declarations for Winter Storms; George W. Bush issued 128 FEMA declarations for Winter Storms in his eight years; and Barack Obama has issued 20 FEMA declarations in his first year in office, which would put him on track for roughly 160 FEMA declarations for Winter Storms should he serve two terms. Given the federal budget deficits, FEMA can’t afford to cover 75% of the costs of state snow removal either. It is high time for this federalization of routine events to come to a halt and for states to plan and budget for what are known events every year.