So your town suffered from an increasingly common natural disaster. Luckily, the federal government is here to assist. But there’s no way you’re going to be able to figure out how to get that assistance on your own. Meet The Disaster Consultants. “FEMA is, in theory, complicated for a reason. Its labyrinth of rules is there to curb fraud and to make sure that local governments are using taxpayer money appropriately. But a laser focus on fraud prevention sometimes leads to the agency spending as much or more on documentation and reviews as the project itself should cost. ‘FEMA will spend thousands of dollars writing a project worksheet for $250 of eligible costs,’ says Ben Rose, recovery and mitigation section chief at Vermont Emergency Management. ‘It’s not seeing the forest for the trees.’ And it also makes the process nearly impossible to navigate alone, particularly for cities and small towns that have never dealt with disasters before.”