It was shocking, yet at the same time not.
FEMA announced over the weekend that those precious federal dollars that had been dedicated to rebuilding the roads and schools in Joplin after the devastating storm that nearly wiped them off the map have been, well, “re-appropriated”.
Apparently the barely-a-Hurricane Irene (which was more of a steady rain, really) is more important than an F5 tornado that killed over 150 people and caused roughly $3 billion worth of damage. From NBC:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is cutting off payments to rebuild roads and schools in Joplin, Mo. because of Hurricane Irene.
…FEMA’s disaster relief fund has dropped under the $1 billion the agency likes to keep on hand, and newer disasters like Irene are starting to take priority.
So, what, every time a new disaster rolls through they’re going to drop the last (but still recent) disaster and focus on the newest one? That’s what newscasters do, not what FEMA is supposed to do.
Taking money away from the people of Joplin, a city that was completely destroyed, to focus on cleaning up tree limbs on the East Coast is appalling. Of course, they don’t see it that way:
“What it does do, we stop funding new work in older disasters that have not already been in the system to maintain funds to continue to support the survivors, as well as the response to this disaster,” FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said Sunday. “We are not taking any money away from survivors.”
But that’s exactly what they are doing. They are taking money away from the survivors of the tornado in Joplin. Just because the disaster relief fund they’re taking away wasn’t going directly into the pockets of the survivors does not at all mean that they aren’t taking the money away from the survivors.
Roads and schools are relatively integral elements of any city in America. (I can’t believe I have to state something so ridiculously obvious, but we’re dealing with FEMA here, so I’m somehow not entirely surprised, either.) Removing the funds to rebuild the roads and schools will be a hugely negative impact on the people of Joplin. And when the city and state has to pony up the cash to cover the difference, it will be exactly like taking the money away from them… twice.
Should it be a surprise that Obama’s administration is more worried with focusing on the East Coast than the Midwest? Sadly, not a bit. He’s been doing it with the Army Corps-created flood that’s been inundating states along the Missouri River for months now.
It’s all about votes… and Joplin residents learned that first hand yesterday, albeit from an extremely uncomfortable position jammed firmly under the proverbial bus.