With Hurricane Harvey still visible in our rearview mirror, Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, and Hurricane Jose looming out in the Atlantic, now’s probably not a great time to hear that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (a.k.a. FEMA) is about to run out of money.
And yet, according to Bloomberg, FEMA will likely be out of money by Friday, before Irma’s impact is even felt in Florida.
The $1.01 billion in the fund Tuesday morning is less than half of the $2.14 billion that was there at 9 a.m. last Thursday morning — a spend rate of $9.3 million every hour, or about $155,000 a minute.
And of the $1.01 billion in the fund on Tuesday, only $541 million was “immediately available” for Harvey relief, reports Bloomberg.
Those are terrifying financials considering Hurricane Irma is forecast to buzzsaw the eastern Florida coast before hitting the southeast Atlantic coast, including parts of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
One reason for the rapid spending is, according to FEMA itself, pre-storm precautions with regarding Irma. William Booher, FEMA’s director of public affairs, told NBC News that hundreds of personnel and staff members have already been deployed to Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida.
Irma is currently stronger than Harvey was and though it may not make the same type of direct landfall as Harvey did, spinning along the coast, it’s still sure to do tens of billions of dollars in damage on top of the current estimate of Harvey damage, which one expert pegged at nearly $100 billion.
Meanwhile, Congress is working on approving a huge $7.85 billion relief package for Harvey victims in Texas and Louisiana. The package has passed the House and is now awaiting approval by the Senate.
Yet the approaching threat from Irma hasn’t escaped the attention of Florida’s two senators, Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R), who said in a joint statement that they were “deeply concerned that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will not have the resources it needs to respond if Congress doesn’t act soon.”
So the race is on to get even more money to fuel FEMA as Irma approaches the U.S. and with Hurricane Jose expected to become a major hurricane by Friday.
If there’s any good news at all, it’s simply that — for right now — it seems Jose’s track is currently forecasted to turn out into open waters and away from the U.S.