Budgets for FEMA and HUD Are Vital

From the Union of Concerned Scientists: FEMA and HUD Budgets are Vital for Disaster and Climate Preparedness

Last year’s record-breaking disasters—including hurricanes, wildfires and floods—were a reminder of how climate change and faulty development policies are colliding to create dangerous and costly outcomes for the American public. While much attention is focused on post-disaster recovery, we need to invest much more in preparing for disasters before they happen. The good news is that the omnibus budget deal recently passed by Congress appropriated significant funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help foster community resilience, in many cases undoing steep cuts that had been proposed by the Trump administration.

More on the DHS OIG Reports

Last weekend, the Diva did a posting titled What the Heck is This About, which dealt with the decision of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to remove some reports about early disaster response activities from their website.

On March 16, a reporter at USA Today provided more details in a second article about the DHS OIG reports. See: FEMA’s response to Hurricane Maria won’t get initial review under watchdog agency’s new approach. Reporter Ledge King raised several issues that remain about the decisions made by the OIG, including how best to inform FEMA staff re progress with response efforts and how to provide documentation of response progress for those outside the agency interested in the disaster response process.

The Diva was pleased to be interviewed by the reporter to make the case on behalf of researchers and historians.

Federal Disaster Rebuilding Spending

From the Wharton School: Federal Disaster Rebuilding Spending: A Look at the Numbers.

Last year set records for natural disaster damages in the United States. NOAA estimates total damages from the 2017 events were over $300 billion. The U.S. experienced not one, not two, but three land falling hurricanes. Hurricane Harvey set a record for rainfall. The wildfires in California were some of the costliest the state has ever seen.

In response to these events, Congress passed two supplemental spending bills in September and October appropriating $34.5 billion in post-disaster funds and forgiving $16 billion of debt for the National Flood Insurance Program. A couple weeks ago, Congress approved a two-year budget that included an additional $90 billion for disaster rebuilding. This puts the total spending in response to the 2017 events at over $130 billion—another record.

“Dismantle the Dept. of Homeland Security”

From the New Republic: Dismantle the Department of Homeland Security. “The case for abolishing the wasteful, incompetent, and abusive mega-agency has become especially urgent under Trump.”

What I find interesting is that both liberal and conservative critics are cited in the article. [The Diva is amazed that no readers comments on this article. ]
Update:
see this posting by fellow blogger Eric Holdeman:

State of CA Lawmakers are Preparing for More Disasters

How California lawmakers are preparing for more natural disasters.  Here is an excerpt from the LA times article:

Dozens of Californians lost their lives in wildfires and other natural disasters in recent months.

In response to the widespread emergencies, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators want to change insurance rules, emergency alert systems and debris removal policies and spend more money on fire protection. If passed, these new laws would add to the many protections already enshrined in state law for those who have experienced natural disasters, including substantial relief from property taxes.

State officials are warning residents should expect more natural disasters due to the effects of climate change.

“Sadly, what these communities and these members’ residents have experienced is now going to be far too common in California,” Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said last week at a news conference surrounded by state lawmakers. “We no longer have a fire season. We have year-round fire season.”

Possible Effects of EPA Budget Cuts

From the Conversation website: In planned EPA cuts, US to lose vital connection to at-risk communities.

The Trump budget calls for slashing the EPA budget by an estimated 31 percent. Staff would be reduced by 25 percent and 50 programs could see cuts, such as ones designed to lower the health risks from lead paint.

In all likelihood, the first communities to feel effects of a dismantled EPA are those who consistently pay the biggest price when policy strays from being focused on people. It will be the indigenous people, the populations who live in poverty and at-risk communities – often populated by people of color – who typically feel the sharp cuts and public health effects first and fully.