Locals Wondering About FEMA Money for Security

By: Vicky Nguyen
By: Vicky Nguyen

Members of the local Citizens Homeland Security Council are wondering where the money is.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, granted thousands of dollars to the program months ago, but that money hasn't materialized.

We haven't heard much about this until now, and things have come to a make or break point recently.

Tonight frustrated members of the Homeland Security Council spoke to former Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin. He is now a regional director for FEMA.

And he fielded some tough questions about the grant money his agency gave to the state.

"It's very cumbersome, requirements are new and onerous and not timely," said one council member.

FEMA Director Jeff Griffin got an earful from Security Council members fed up with what they call mountainous bureaucracy.

"We've had delays and bottlenecks. Who do we talk to, put pressure on?" asks another council member.

"Phone calls have been made," says FEMA Region 9 Director Grinnin. "It's of very high interest."

Coordinator Larry Martines is also interested.

He says the council received two FEMA grants in June totaling about $180,000. One grant to be used for training and equipment that helps citizens identify and deal with terror attacks or major disasters.

The other grant is to start CERT, a Community Emergency Response Team.

"We're talking about money for first aid, helmets, jackets," says Martines. "We're talking about hundreds of people who can help in case of a disaster"

Martines says the programs are in a holding pattern and the delays compromise the region's emergency readiness. "People want this resolved as fast as possible," he says.

Griffin says he's aware of the bottleneck and he's taken steps to move the money through the system. "The fact it hasn't reached here is something we're aware of and sensitive to," Griffin says.

So far though, he isn't directly involved, but after this meeting, and after hearing these concerns, the former Reno mayor says he may get back into some local politics.

And to clarify, Security Council members are not putting the blame on Jeff Griffin, he simply represents FEMA, and that is the source of the grants.

News Channel 8 has been in contact with directors at the state Department of Emergency Management, as well as the Local Emergency Planning Committee of Washoe County.

We're told a meeting is planned for later this month to bring all the parties together and get the grant money where it's supposed to be.

We will, of course, follow up on that and let you know how the issue is resolved.


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