The effort to obtain federal assistance for Dallas County in the wake of October's tornadoes "became a bureaucratic game," Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said Wednesday after FEMA denied Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's appeal for a major disaster declaration.
Abbott appealed in late April the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to reject the request for the declaration after destructive tornadoes in Dallas and Erath counties in October.
Wednesday, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor wrote to Abbott to deny the request.
"After a thorough review of all the information contained in your initial request and appeal, we reaffirm our original findings that the impact from this event is not of the severity and magnitude that warrants a major disaster declaration," Gaynor wrote.
The tornadoes, on Oct. 20 and 21 caused widespread damage.
"I am stunned by FEMA’s decision and extremely disappointed that our request for assistance became a bureaucratic game at the federal level — one that leaves Dallas taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in damage while we are still contending with a pandemic," Johnson said in a written statement.
When Abbott initially requested federal aid, the state's damages totaled $18 million, however after Dallas ISD's insurance review revealed an additional $27 million in uninsured damages, the total exceeded the state threshold for FEMA assistance, according to a letter the governor wrote to President Donald Trump in April.
Read Johnson's full statement below.
"I am stunned by FEMA’s decision and extremely disappointed that our request for assistance became a bureaucratic game at the federal level — one that leaves Dallas taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars in damage while we are still contending with a pandemic. The EF-3 tornado that struck North Dallas on October 20, 2019, was clearly a major disaster. Anyone who saw the wreckage the morning of October 21 could attest to that.
"I am grateful to our Congressional delegation, including Senators Cornyn and Cruz, for their advocacy on our behalf. I have already spoken to Senator Cornyn, who told me he is not ready to give up on finding relief for our city. We are going to continue to fight for fairness for Dallas taxpayers."