MARK RALSTON

Additional money needs to be immediately injected into the agency’s disaster relief fund

Sep, 07, 2017

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is running out of cash fast just as the most powerful Atlantic hurricane ever recorded makes it way towards Florida.

FEMA’s response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey last month has quickly depleted the agency’s disaster relief fund. It is expected to run out of money by Friday, according to Bloomberg.

“If it’s down to $1 billion or less, then I would say there’s a great concern,” said Elizabeth Zimmerman, who until January was FEMA’s associate administrator for the office of response and recovery. “Congress needs to take action very quickly.”

She added: “We’re not even at peak hurricane season.”

So how fast is it dwindling? NBC News is reporting that the fund dropped  by $2.14 billion last Thursday to $1.01 billion as of this past Tuesday. Since the frequency and severity of extreme weather have increased in recent years due to climate change, federal spending on disaster relief has been rising.

The Trump  administration has requested Congress for almost $8 billion in additional funds, which the House passed easily Wednesday. The Senate is expected to take it up quickly as well, but some worry it might not be in time.

“FEMA is scheduled to run out of money by Friday, Sept. 8, just two days before Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Florida,” Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio said in a joint statement. “Unfortunately, the current disaster relief package Congress is considering for Hurricane Harvey doesn’t account for the additional costs FEMA will likely incur as a result of Hurricane Irma.”