FEMA announced that it will divert money that had been intended for long-term rebuilding efforts in Joplin and other cities to assist victims of Hurricane Irene, which ravaged the East Coast over the weekend, but some aid will continue to be sent to Joplin as the city recovers from the May 22 tornado that wrecked roughly a third of the city and killed more than 100 people.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said the agency is just plain spread too thin at the moment. FEMA has put funding for "permanent" projects on hold for the moment. From the paper:
"We will not be able to fund those based on our remaining dollars as we are now responding to Hurricane Irene," Fugate said. Fugate said projects from previous disasters such as Joplin could be funded again once FEMA knows how much of its resources will go towards helping the states hit by Irene. "Our goal is to keep this as short as possible," Fugate said.
That doesn't sit well with Sen. Claire McCaskill, who issued a statement on Sunday condemning FEMA's decision to shift the money. "Days ago I walked the streets of Joplin. I saw construction projects where rubble had been, I saw parks where trees had toppled, and I saw a community trying to heal and rebuild — I didn't see any camera trucks. I warned FEMA and assured victims in Joplin that they would not be forgotten after the camera trucks lowered their antennas and rolled out of town. I will fight to make sure that promise is kept," she said. "FEMA should be prepared for all types of disasters and have the resources to respond rapidly, and stay until the work is done and until the community is made whole again."
Meanwhile, The Washington Post has a story saying that FEMA's finances are in rough shape. The paper reports that FEMA has only $900 million on-hand. And Cantor, The Post says, is also calling for cuts to offset funds sent to FEMA used to aid parts of eastern states that were hit with an earthquake.