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Why People Hate FEMA

David Klepper, Topeka correspondent, Kansas City Star looks at local reaction: Rules force many in Chapman, Kan., to rebuild without basements

CHAPMAN, Kan. | Tell a town of Kansas tornado survivors that they can’t have a basement? Amy Bemis has a word for talk like that.

“Insane,” she says.

Like most residents of Chapman, Kan., Bemis huddled in her basement the night of June 11, when a tornado destroyed scores of homes in this town of 1,250.

Recovery efforts are in full swing, and residents say they will remake Chapman better than it was before.

But the efforts to rebuild the community now face an obstacle townspeople did not expect: Federal reconstruction rules are forcing many residents to rebuild without the basements that sheltered them through the storm.

Many of the houses in the town that were destroyed are in a flood plain.  Even though they weren’t damaged by a flood, FEMA is saying that they have to be elevated and eliminate the basements.

I don’t guess it occurs to anyone that you can elevate the house by extending the walls of the basement upward, and eliminate possible flood damage by sealing the basement and moving the utilities out.

3 comments

1 Rook { 07.29.08 at 11:12 pm }

I absolutely can not believe the audacity of this administration. It really is all about doing everything possible to kill people.

2 cookie jill { 07.29.08 at 11:18 pm }

Didn’t the Clinton Administration set some sort of standards about forcing developers to build cellars in the Tornado Section part of the Country? I recall they were saying that was one of the lessons that they learned after Andrew and the lackin’ King Georgie Bush the first’s lousy handling of the disaster…
I could be going crazy…I’ve been shaken yet not stirred today.

All I can say is THANK GOD FOR GOVERNMENT BUILDING STANDARDS…especially when things go shake, rattle and roll.

3 Bryan { 07.30.08 at 12:13 am }

Rook, the people in charge have no common sense. We built on stilts in some areas down here because of storm surge. You could “mound” the property, but the fill dirt is mostly sand, so it’s safer just to put down a concrete foundation and use metal or concrete pillars, so the storm surge passes freely under the house.

It’s great for storm surge, but the wind damage increases, and they are no place to be in a tornado.

Raise the height of the basement walls, it’s a simple solution that solves two problems.

Jill, people are now putting concrete “safe rooms” in new housing down here, but a basement is safer. Everyone builds with a basement in tornado country – as the lady said it’s insane not to. I’m sure that where there are codes, the codes include a basement.

Yes, if you move into a new home in California, you don’t have to worry about it coming down around your ears. Codes work.