In the midst of Hurricane Florence recovery, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has its work cut.
However, due to a recent reallocation of $10 million of its budget, FEMA’s relief work will be somewhat curtailed due to a lack of funding.
This reallocation was brought to light by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and has brought this financial transaction into the light of the American public. This moved the money from FEMA efforts like preparedness and protection and response and recovery, to fund President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration program and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
In a statement made to the Washington Post, Merkley condemned the actions of Trump and the movement of funds.
“This is a scandal,” Merkley said. “At the start of hurricane season, when American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still suffering from FEMA’s inadequate recovery efforts, the administration transferred millions of dollars away from FEMA. And for what? To implement their profoundly misguided ‘zero-tolerance’ policy.“
Merkley believed that the redirection of funds is a direct sign of disrespect to the people that would lose everything in the storm.
“It wasn’t enough to rip thousands of children out of the arms of their parents; the administration chose to partly pay for this horrific program by taking away from the ability to respond to damage from this year’s upcoming and potentially devastating hurricane season.”
ICE was not the only agency to receive parts of this reallocation of funds. According to the Washington Post, the Secret Service and other agencies funded by the Department of Homeland Security received some of the money transferred from FEMA.
After the lack of funding that resulted in spotty relief efforts in Puerto Rico last year, this movement of funds could not have come at a worse time. Hurricane Florence has caused major flooding and damage to business and homes all over the Carolinas.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that FEMA is unprepared for a large-scale disaster and relief effort. Following Hurricane Katrina, FEMA was criticized for being unprepared and this was due to a lack of training and funding from the federal government. In the same article from the Washington Post, the funds were transferred from the various training and information technology department budgets within FEMA.
So now not only is it underfunded, it no longer have the ability to train the people that will be sent into those areas to help the people recover from Hurricane Florence.
While Florence was not as strong as storms like Katrina or Harvey, it still had the possibility for major damage on the Eastern Seaboard and still resulted in the destruction of numerous homes and businesses as well as wide scale flooding.
Even though the funding may not be directly taken from the disaster relief budget of FEMA, the ramifications from lack of training, communication and information technology can result in the loss of a life that could have been saved by adequate training.
The people that are being affected by this storm deserve better. This movement of funds is basically saying that recovery does not matter to the federal government and that detaining illegal immigrants is more important.
It is the job of the government to help the people, not divert essential funds to detain people coming here for a better life.