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FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund In Danger Of Running Out

Catherine Green |
September 24, 2011 | 1:56 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. (Wikimedia Commons)
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. (Wikimedia Commons)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has bigger problems than public scrutiny of response to the summer's onslaught of natural disasters.

The Washington Post reported Friday that FEMA had just $175 million in its Disaster Relief Fund. That pot of money may be gone by Tuesday if budget measures aren't finalized.

Congress failed to approve a stopgap funding bill last week, instead engaging in what The Post called " an almost accidental dispute that set the parties bickering over $1.6 billion in budget cuts." For those keeping an eye on the books, the report pointed out that's just 0.04 percent of the federal budget.

FEMA's woes are just one more point of anxiety as the country finds itself again facing a possible government shutdown. The agency is working with White House lawyers to lay out a plan of action if Congress doesn't pass the budget measure early next week.

While FEMA administrators plot a backup plan, residents in North Dakota await critical road repairs after disastrous floods, and Ohio is still left with the mess of recent landslides.

As The Post reported:

The holdups are forcing an untold number of cities and towns to put off a host of projects, according to Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, who chairs an emergency management committee for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Cownie’s city is waiting for up to $6 million to negotiate buyouts with 62 homeowners along a tributary to the Des Moines River that flooded in 2010. The uprooted families are eager to move on, he said.

“I just think it’s a shame that we’re playing politics with people’s lives,” Cownie said. “People rely on the federal government to respond. Those people that we elected, we want them to respond.”


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