FEMA funds spread thin amid continuous natural disasters (includes video story)

When Hurricane Idalia was approaching Florida, you could see its size and speed, but the agency leading the federal response saw something else: bills.

According to FEMA director Deanna Criswell, the agency’s emergency management relief fund has a balance of only $3.4 billion, which is likely not enough to cover future expenses.

“We started with atmospheric rivers in California in January, extreme tornadoes in the spring, [then came]the wildfires, and now we are in peak hurricane season,” Criswell says. “So today, I am directing the implementation of immediate needs funding.” 

Criswell adds that the agency will prioritize the $3.4 billion it has left for Idalia,the Maui fires, and other extreme weather. This plan leaves the agency short for the rest of the fiscal year, largely because of the record-breaking amount of weather-related disasters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says a new record has been set for the first seven months of the year, with 15 events causing more than $1 billion dollars in damages each.

FEMA is now asking Congress for $12 billion more, in hopes of getting through the fiscal year.

Hawah Ezell is a senior digital broadcasting student with a concentration in criminal justice. She is passionate about social justice and human rights. She plans on pursuing a career in multi-media journalism where she intends to give a voice to the voiceless.