The complicated method by which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reviews and allocates disaster-related funds has resulted in it paying for less than one percent of Texas’ Harvey-related infrastructure projects, according to the Texas Standard.
According to the Standard, Texas Director of Emergency Management Nim Kidd told a state legislative committee that repairs to bridges and roads received a minimal amount of funds from the federal government. Another witness, Ali Mostafavi of Texas A&M, said FEMA’s insistence that applicants determine how much damage was caused by a catastrophic event, as opposed to damage that existed before the event, slows the process down. This requires cities and states to take longer and provide more documentation for their claims, which in turn creates more work for FEMA’s adjusters.
According to Mostafavi, as quoted by the Standard, “the amount [of] documents [FEMA employees] need to read and approve is significant. The number of staff and resources available and number of disasters they saw last hurricane season, this increases the workload.”
The Washington Post reports $10 million has been diverted from FEMA to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. However, the document outlying the diversion, which was announced by Senator Jeff Merkley on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” says it will have a minimal “mission impact.” Merkley said the agency will cut funding for areas of operations like travel and IT security support, which would not affect disaster recovery.