Americana: Missing Disaster

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Opening the morning mail in Cloud Lake, Fla., Town Clerk Dorothy Gravelin discovered that the Federal Government had designated the tiny municipality (pop. 136) a "major disaster area." Gravelin was perplexed. "Everything here looked fine," she said. She phoned Liz Pattison, Florida coordinator in the U.S. Office of Revenue Sharing, who told her that the disaster must have been the severe crop freeze in January 1977. Cloud Lake has no farms and only a few backyard orange trees.

After a quick huddle with Mayor Leon Larisey, Gravelin announced that Cloud Lake would stand on principle and refuse the federal aid. Said Wendy Hallgren, owner of a pottery shop: "There's enough government waste without us adding to it. We're honest, God-fearing people. We're not going to take a handout for a disaster that we never had." So Washington will have to find some other way of spending the relief earmarked for Cloud Lake, all $22.61 of it.