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FEMA Spent a Ton Fighting California’s Fires. Now It Wants Victims to Pay It Back.

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14.01.2020

Mason Trinca (Washing Post via Getty Images)

When disasters strike and overwhelm cities and states, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is supposed to step in and help emergency response and recovery efforts. Unfortunately, FEMA is best known for its failuresdangerously slow response times, public relations scams, languishing aid—and it seems now the agency has hit another new low. FEMA, which is also notorious for coming up short on pledged financial support, is now going as far as to say disaster victims may have to pay it back.

To be clear, the federal agency is actually asking PG&E—the utility company currently in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings that is responsible for wildfires over the past several years—for a nearly $4 billion reimbursement for the cost of the federal government’s response to California fires in 2015, 2016, and 2018. The agency argues that it has a duty to hold third parties who cause a disaster accountable for the spent taxpayer dollars. Still, a former FEMA director was reportedly shocked by the agency’s request calling it “unusual” and “inappropriate.”

Under the utility’s current bankruptcy plan, the money would have to come........

© Mother Jones