FEMA denies Indiana assistance for January snowstorm

Eleven inches of snow fell on Indianapolis January 5.
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency has denied Indiana's request for financial assistance for a monster snowstorm that hit the state in January.

The request from 49 Indiana counties would have provided grant money to help pay for the cost of the storm that hit January 5-9.

It's hard to forget the January 5th snowstorm, which dropped 11 inches of snow. That storm brought life to a standstill for many Hoosier communities.

But FEMA now says it wasn't bad enough to get money to help pay for it. In Kokomo, this makes three rejections from FEMA for three disasters just this year.

For Bridget Aaron, winter was just the latest in a series of severe weather blows.

"It has been a very, very hard winter," Aaron said.

Her salon business in Kokomo, like much of that community, is still reeling from the November tornados.

"We had extensive damage to the shop and to my mother's home," Aaron explained. "We are recovering well, but it's a slow process because of the weather."

Kokomo also took a weather hit nearly a year ago with record flooding. Cars and homes were swamped. Many residents needed to be rescued.

"It was bad," Aaron said, "Extremely hard for everyone."

Despite that triple threat of flooding, tornados and severe cold and snow, Howard County has been denied federal help to recover, all three times. The latest rejection from FEMA - grants to help pay for January's snowstorm.

"I would ask them simply, 'What does it take? How bad does it need to get to get help?'," Aaron questioned.

"We would have loved any assistance we could have gotten, but that's not the case," said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight.

Goodnight says, along with other Indiana communities, they will appeal FEMA's rejection.

That January snowstorm was expensive.

"Somewhere around three quarters of a million dollars," Goodnight said.

That's on top of the $50 million dollars budgeted for the winter. The mayor says losing out on federal money means park, sidewalk and road improvements may get delayed this spring and summer.

"Maybe you don't do the whole two miles of the road, part of it this year, part of it next year," Goodnight said.

Mayor Goodnight says the city wasn't counting on FEMA money, but getting rejected three times for three weather disasters isn't easy.

Bridget Aaron says the only silver lining here, is what you can't put a price on.

"I think people became closer through all these tragedies," she said.

And in Kokomo, they've survived quite a lot.

Indiana's Department of Homeland Security says FEMA bases its decision on money spent per person, per county, during the storm. We didn't meet the threshold, but there will be an appeal.

DHS and local counties plan to go back through their numbers and try again for help. They have 30 days to do so.

The counties that were included in the request were Allen, Benton, Blackford, Boone, Carroll, Cass, Clay, Clinton, DeKalb, Delaware, Elkhart, Fountain, Fulton, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Howard, Huntington, Jasper, Jay, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Lake, LaPorte, Madison, Marion, Miami, Montgomery, Morgan, Newton, Noble, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Rush, Shelby, Sullivan, Tipton, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, Warren, Wells, White and Whitley.