Dallas Tornado Recovery Without Federal Money

FEMA denies appeal for disaster declaration

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Dallas failed to win federal money for October tornado recovery. The city and schools must repair buildings without it, even as coronavirus has sickened local budgets.

The City of Dallas recorded $44.5 million in tornado damage to city buildings.  The Dallas Independent School District had $53.7 million in damage, including three schools that were destroyed.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) found the combined losses still failed to meet the threshold of $38.5 million of uninsured loss to qualify as a federal disaster.

The decision upheld an earlier decision despite appeals from local leaders.

Lee Kleinman is one of the Dallas City Council Members representing the tornado damaged area.

“It seems very tone-deaf to be quite honest with you, for the administration to literally come and review all that devastation and say we're not going to declare it a disaster area,” Kleinman said.

An example of the tornado recovery is the site of Dallas Fire Station 41 on Royal Lane near Preston Road. It was destroyed by the tornado and the site is now a vacant lot. Federal money might have paid for a replacement. The city must find other money instead.

“The fire department is working very hard to make sure they can maintain the service level, but geographic location is important when we try to make under 10 minute response time,” Kleinman said.

Dallas Fire-Rescue is planning a temporary station on other vacant land nearby. A permanent replacement is at least two years away.

Dallas ISD plans to spend around  $82 million to renovate or replace the Thomas Jefferson High School, Cary Middle School and Walnut Hill Elementary School buildings.

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