A great article about disaster costs and the relationship of FEMA to states and locals.
Tom Cox shared this story, Why the U.S. disaster agency isn't ready for catastrophes, about disaster costs and how everyone wants FEMA to pick up the tab when disaster strikes — no matter how much money they have in the bank. I'm reminded of a retired police officer who said, "I'm always surprised at the end of a dinner out with the family that I appear to be the only person with a wallet."
I've lived through most of this discussion as an emergency manager. I recall the $1 per population was "unofficial" and then it became semi-official. I also remember when a snowstorm was not a disaster and FEMA would not pay for snow removal costs — now they do. Once you go down that slippery slope, there is no going back.
The only thing that will change this path we are on is a federal government funding crisis. When, nearing bankruptcy, all expenditures will be closely monitored and Uncle Sugar's bank will be closed. This is of course likely to happen at a time when there are bigger disasters with catastrophic damages and costs.
I have not met a legislator yet who may be called a fiscal conservative (although I don't think that brand of legislator exists today) who, when it is his/her district, that they are not at the FEMA trough demanding that their district be fed with federal disaster recovery dollars.
Sooie! (Look it up if you have not fed hogs on a farm).