JOPLIN, Mo. (CN) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected Gov. Jay Nixon’s request to extend an emergency debris removal program in Joplin, where a giant tornado killed 160 people and destroyed 8,000 homes and businesses. Rejecting the request will save the federal government money.
An EF-5 tornado, the strongest measurable twister, destroyed a large part of the southwest Missouri town on May 22. The tornado was so big it would have destroyed most of the island of Manhattan, according to a map on Joplin’s Facebook page.
Under the Expedited Debris Removal, the federal government pays 90 percent of the cost of rapid removal in the hardest-hit areas after a catastrophic event.
The government’s share drops to 75 percent once the program expires.
FEMA gave Joplin 75 days under the program, which ends Sunday.
Nixon requested an extension to Aug. 31, but FEMA gave Joplin the back of the hand.
The governor say he was “extremely disappointed by the federal government’s denial of our request for an extension of the Expedited Debris Removal Program.”
He added: “This decision by FEMA dramatically increases the cost burden on state and local governments as we continue our efforts to complete this vital mission.”
On Monday, Nixon said the state would pick up Joplin’s 10 percent under the program.
By the end of July, government contractors had cleared 1,281 of the 1,485 residential lots eligible for the program, and had removed 1.4 million cubic yards of an estimated 1.5 million cubic yards of debris, The Associated Press reported.