West Bay Mobile Newsroom
FEMA Denies Rhode Island's Appeal For Federal Aid For The Club Fire Tragedy
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ The Federal Emergency Management Agency has again denied Gov. Donald Carcieri's request for disaster relief in the wake of a deadly nightclub fire in West Warwick.
``This event, though tragic in nature, is not beyond the combined capabilities of the state and affected local communities, given the resources that have been made available from federal,
state, local and voluntary entities,'' wrote Michael Brown, an agency undersecretary, in a letter dated Wednesday.
Carcieri, a Republican, last month appealed the agency's first denial directly to President Bush. He outlined more than $1 million in direct state and local expenses related to the Feb. 20 fire at
The Station. The blaze claimed 99 lives and injured nearly 200 others.
In the March 25 appeal, Carcieri said, ``I have determined that this incident is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the state and the affected
local communities.'' He cited long-term costs for uninsured medical expenses, lost incomes and mental health care for victims he said could exceed $100 million.
Carcieri said he was disappointed by the latest denial, since FEMA's regional office had encouraged the state to appeal.
``When we put all the data together, based on indications we had from the regional office, we had a better chance,'' Carcieri said.
``It looks to me like FEMA has communications problems internally.''
The governor added FEMA may have been concerned about setting a precedent.
``It's a shame because although this didn't fit a perfect description of what a FEMA requirement might be, this is a very unusual circumstance,'' Carcieri said. ``An event like this doesn't
happen very often.''
Brown's three-paragraph letter noted that the state has already received help from federal sources for such things as survivor and disability benefits, low interest loans, costs related to the
investigation and mental health aid.
The state so far has received at least $500,000 in direct federal aid.
The governor also expects hospitals to obtain significant federal help to cover costs for uncompensated care provided to fire victims.
Carcieri said it is too soon to say whether he will turn to the General Assembly to approve spending to cover some of the unpaid bills from the fire.
``We have to look at all of that,'' he said.
U.S. Rep. James Langevin said he was angry and disappointed at= the decision.
``Not once, not twice, but three times, the federal government has failed to recognize the severity of the West Warwick fire and the impact it had on first responders and the community and the
state as a whole,'' he said.
Langevin, D-R.I., said he will continue to work with other members of the state's congressional delegation to obtain money to offset the cost of the fire.
``The administration may have given up on Rhode Island, he said, ``but this delegation has not.''