Sen. Roy Blunt. (R-Missouri)
By Roseann Moring, Springfield News-Leader
Springfield, MO - Sen. Roy Blunt thinks one way to reduce spending would be to look at the number of disaster declarations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He said if some disasters could be dealt with locally, that could save money for the larger ones such as the May 22 EF5 Joplin tornado.
"We need to make sure we're not exhausting all our resources," he said in Springfield on Wednesday.
Blunt was in Springfield to talk to county and city officials about a new Public Safety building that's in the works.
He said the Joplin tornado reaffirmed the need for such a center, which is designed to withstand an event of that magnitude.
"We've always known something like this is needed," he said.
The center will provide central space to help coordinate disaster efforts for more than 70 federal, state and local response agencies.
Director of Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management Ryan Nicholls said plans for the center hadn't changed because of the Joplin tornado, but the 2007 ice storm had revealed emergency planning weaknesses.
"We had a lot of disasters before we started the planning process," he said.
The center is scheduled to open next spring, Nicholls said.
The federal government contributed $3 million to the project. But Blunt said that people shouldn't expect that sort of money in the near future because of a push to spend less money.
"We've got to get the spending under control," he said.
That's when he said that one solution would be for FEMA to respond to fewer disasters.
He said he believes the number of federal disaster declarations has increased in the past decade and had increased in the decade before that.
The FEMA website shows that the number of federally declared disasters has increased steadily since 1953, when there were 13 disasters.
In that decade, there was an average of 14 disasters per year. This past decade that average has increased to almost 60 disasters per year -- and that is up more than 10 disasters per year from the previous decade.
"I may ask for a study on this," Blunt said.