(UnitedVoice.com) – Wildfires have ripped across Maui, leaving devastation in their wake. The government is sending resources to the island, but there could be a problem. FEMA officials have warned funds are running out.
In July, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell went before a House subcommittee and told lawmakers the disaster relief fund is set to run out of money. She said it would happen at the peak of wildfire and hurricane seasons. She explained that in 2010, the agency responded to 108 disasters. Ten years later, they responded to 315. “We can no longer speak of a disaster season,” she told lawmakers. She expected the fund to run out of money this month and have a $4.2 billion deficit by mid-September without action from elected officials.
A month after Criswell’s warning to Congress, the wildfires ripped through Maui. Though the exact cause is unknown, there’s speculation that power lines coupled with high winds from a hurricane sparked some of the blazes. The historic town of Lahaina was destroyed by the largest of the fires.
On August 20, Criswell appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and once again warned her agency is running out of disaster funds. She said FEMA anticipates a funding shortage by the middle of September. To lessen the impact of the shortfall, the administrator said the agency would push projects into next year to ensure officials have the money to respond to life-threatening crises. She said President Joe Biden’s administration is working with Congress to ensure lawmakers allocate more funds for the recovery projects that have been pushed back and for next year’s budget.
Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will have to convince his conservative lawmakers to authorize more money for FEMA. The congressman recently suggested he would agree to a short-term expansion to avoid a government shutdown.
Meanwhile, back on Maui, the search for victims and survivors is ongoing. More than 100 people are dead, and over 800 are still missing. Many of the 100+ people who lost their lives are children, and others are not identifiable.
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