Obama and FEMA Begin Disaster Relief
The US federal agency that handles disaster relief is under pressure to quickly respond to the devastation caused by Sandy. The agency said that it has the budget to deliver aid to the millions of people trying to recover from the natural disaster.
According to the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, President Barack Obama fast-tracked funds to the areas hit the hardest by the storm. The agency wants to prove that it can work with the states to give basic relief to residents a week before Election Day.
FEMA director Craig Fugate said that President Obama declared New Jersey and New York as areas of major disaster even as the storm was still ongoing. This allows the states to give out federal financial assistance to individuals, such as owners of residences and businesses. Those affected can apply to FEMA for aid. Obama also declared Connecticut an area of major disaster.
Millions of people were affected by Sandy, which was the biggest storm to hit the nation in generations. It left a large part of the eastern United States flooded and experiencing power outages. The number of deaths caused by Sandy was at least 45.
President Obama authorized emergency declarations for several states ranging from West Virginia to Massachusetts and the District of Colombia. The declarations would allow FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts and give a minimum of $5 million in federal aid. The states could ask for more.
Fugate used to be a former paramedic and firefighter. He was formerly Florida’s top emergency management official. He said that FEMA has the budget to respond to Sandy. The agency has around $7 billion that it could allocate to give relief to those affected by Sandy. It could get another $11 billion via congressional action.
Fugate didn’t say how long the cleanup of the damage would take. The agency is still working on projects in connection to last year’s Hurricane Irene.