Fearing another Katrina, the federal government was a bit more ready to lend a hand this time around to those hit hard by Hurricane Irene. All they had to do was stop helping out those already suffering.
In order to afford help on the East Coast for victims of this weekend’s storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has suspended payouts in the Joplin, Missouri region for the moment to make funds available for those hit by the hurricane. While many are still left homeless and roads and buildings remain destroyed due to the tornado that swept through the Midwest this spring, FEMA is focusing on the latest victims of natural disasters in America, and lacking money to make everyone happy, FEMA will be focusing on just the area affected by Irene.
The death toll from this weekend’s tropical storm is at 26 as of Monday morning, whereas 116 were killed as result of the tornado that struck Joplin in May.
President Obama has insisted that the FEMA disaster relief fund have at least $1 billion available in it at all times to aid emergency victims. In the aftermath of this year’s tornado, however, the FEMA fund has only $900 million in it, not enough to help everywhere where it’s needed. With a state of emergency being declared in Washington DC and Delaware and Puerto Rico being dubbed a disaster area, what’s left of the FEMA fund will be going out east while those in Missouri are left in the dust.
The president is expected to ask for supplemental funding from Congress to aid those suffering across the country, though at a time where governmental spending has only caused controversy, it’s not sure how easily those funds will be allotted. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has already said that any new money allocated to FEMA will have to come from cuts elsewhere in the budget. With Congress notoriously being divided after funding cuts during this year’s budget dilemma, there is no telling how soon extra money will be allowed to relief funds, despite the president’s insistence.
“The administration has let the fund reach critically low levels, putting continued recovery at risk, without a plan for the future or a clear method for dealing with new disasters,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said on Saturday. The lawmaker was urging Congress to approve a GOP version of the annual Homeland Security spending bill that would include an addition $1 billion for disaster funding for 2011 and $2.65 billion for fiscal year 2012.
“Time and time again, the [Obama] administration has ignored the obvious funding needs of the Disaster Relief Fund, purposefully and irresponsibly underfunding the account and putting families and communities who have suffered from terrible disasters on the back burner,” added Rogers.