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Washington, D.C. – In a letter to President Bush to request the reconsideration of Kaycee's Presidential Disaster Designation, Wyoming's congressional delegation put the Wyoming disaster in terms Washington, D.C. bureaucrats could understand.

U.S. Sens. Craig Thomas, Mike Enzi and Rep. Barbara Cubin wrote in support of a twofold request submitted by Gov. Jim Geringer that asked the president to reconsider his denial of Geringer's initial request for a Presidential Disaster Designation for Kaycee and called for a change of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) criteria for awarding disaster assistance.

"Washington, D.C. would not function after such a disaster and neither can Kaycee," the delegation wrote. They also said in the future, a clearer representation of disaster for Kaycee and other very small towns should be the percentage of the town damaged not the total cost.

The delegation said disaster in Washington comparable to the August flood of Kaycee would destroy 96,169 homes and 15,575 businesses, crippling the city.

Under present criteria, a majority of Wyoming's communities could be destroyed and they would still not be eligible to receive a disaster designation. The August 27-28 flood of Kaycee destroyed 80 percent of the town's businesses and 35 percent of the homes.

The delegation forwarded a copy of the letter to Vice President Dick Cheney and FEMA Director Joe M. Allbaugh.
A copy of the delegation letter follows:

October 9, 2002

President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing in strong support of a request submitted by Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer that Johnson County be reconsidered for a Presidential Disaster Declaration. In addition, we strongly support Governor Geringer's request that the Federal Emergency Management Agency's criteria for awarding disaster assistance be changed to reflect the increased relative impact of disaster to frontier communities.

As you know, on August 27-28, 2002, the town of Kaycee, Wyoming was overwhelmed by a four-foot surge of water from the Powder River caused by a severe and destructive rain storm. Governor Geringer's initial request for a Presidential Disaster Designation was denied even though 80% of the businesses and 35% of the homes in Kaycee were destroyed by the flood.

The criteria for federal disaster designations and assistance needs to be changed. Even though it effectively maimed the community, a disaster of the flood's relative magnitude in Johnson County does not qualify as a disaster. A comparable disaster in Washington, DC would destroy 96,196 homes and 15,575 businesses. Washington, DC would not function after such a disaster and neither can Kaycee, Wyoming. In the future, a clearer representation of disaster for Kaycee, and other frontier towns, should be the percentage of the town damaged.

Under today's criteria, a majority of Wyoming's communities could be destroyed without receiving a disaster designation, as Kaycee has shown. In response, we support the reconsideration of Kaycee's Presidential Disaster Designation and for the future of Wyoming communities, we ask that the federal disaster designation criteria be recalibrated.

Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. We look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your timely review of this request.

Sincerely,

Senator Craig Thomas Representative Barbara Cubin Senator Mike Enzi
United States Senator Member of Congress United States Senator


cc:
The Honorable Richard B. Cheney, Vice President
The Honorable Joe M. Allbaugh, FEMA Director