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Budget Cuts Leave FEMA Struggling in Irene Aftermath

30 Aug 2011  |   Emma Brown

Tags: General Political

A lack of funding has forced the Federal Emergency Management Agency to divert aid intended for tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri and other disaster-stricken areas to providing aid relief in the aftermath of Irene.

The agency—which has faced massive budget cuts under the Republican-led House—has less than $800 million in disaster-relief funds remaining to deal with a disaster already estimated to have caused as much as $10 billion in damage.  That’s on top of the $5 billion budget shortfall the agency predicted prior to Irene.

Despite agreeing that the agency remains dangerously underfunded, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reaffirmed on Monday earlier statements he had made insisting that before the House moves to allocate further FEMA funding, the Obama Administration and Senate Democrats must first agree to offset the costs through budget cuts elsewhere. Those saving measures, Judd Legum of Think Progress points out, are likely to come from slashing the budgets of first responders. 

Meanwhile FEMA continues to cope with its budget shortfalls in a year that saw record numbers of extreme weather-related disasters—a pattern that may continue for years to come.  While no particular storm or weather event can be blamed on global warming alone, scientists around the world have continually warned that unmitigated climate change will lead to more extreme weather events like those experienced in 2011.

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