RealNews

Emergency Funds Spent To Replace Beach Sand

The morning after Hurricane Isabel hit last September, Town Manager Frank A. Rush Jr. dashed off an e-mail. “The town of Emerald Isle was extremely fortunate, and sustained very little damage,” Rush wrote on Sept. 19 to town officials. “Beach erosion . . . is minimal.” Yet Emerald Isle turned to the government for help. After the beach resort was declared part of a federal natural disaster area, the Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the town nearly $1.5 million for street signs, tennis court lights and sand for the resort’s carefully manicured beaches. “I have a great deal of difficulty using FEMA for wealthy beach towns getting money for sand,” said Emily Farmer, the former mayor of the town of 3,500. “Emerald Isle basically uses FEMA as an insurance policy.” It is not alone. Dozens of wealthy beach towns and coastal communities turned to the federal agency after Isabel and received tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded disaster relief, records obtained by The Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act show. The bulk of the money was used to clear debris and pay for emergency workers’ overtime. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, however, were used to repair flagpoles, signs, bike paths and ball fields. Full Story

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