The Monitor – FEMA seeks to withhold criteria used to determine Dolly aid

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking to withhold criteria its inspectors used in deciding whether to award storm damage claims after Hurricane Dolly, saying it is not bound by federal law to disclose them.

Releasing those standards would limit the agency’s discretion in deciding future cases and “dramatically change” the rules governing how it operates, the agency said in federal court filings.

FEMA’s response comes more than two months after 14 low-income Rio Grande Valley residents sued the agency, questioning denial letters they received after applying for emergency assistance.

In each case, they were told their homes had sustained “insufficient damage” from the storm. And in several cases, FEMA blamed the hurricane damage on poor construction and maintenance before the storm.

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