Top-ranking Federal Emergency Management Agency officials will appear before a Senate panel Wednesday to testify about disaster preparedness, among them the acting administrator and President Trump’s nominee to lead the agency.
Lawmakers had hoped to have a new FEMA chief in place before hurricane season started on the first of this month.
But almost two weeks into this year’s season, FEMA is still trying to help communities in the U.S. recover from past disasters: flooding in the Midwest, wildfires in California and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, almost two years ago.
That doesn’t surprise Samantha Montano, an emergency management professor at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, who’s doing field work in New Orleans.
“We’re coming up on the 14th anniversary of Katrina and there are so many people and so many properties that look like the storm happened a month ago,” Montano said.
After Katrina, policies were put into place to make recovery faster and more efficient. But Gavin Smith at North Carolina State University says FEMA is still reacting to disasters instead of planning up front.
“They need more personnel to assist state and local governments before the storm ever happens,” he said. “And there is not sufficient staff or resources dedicated to that.”
Last week, after months of delay, President Trump signed a $19 billion package to help towns and cities still recovering from disasters over the past two years.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.