Despite the mass media’s hysterical fear-mongering over Hurricane Irene, the hurricane weakened as it got closer and closer to land. By the time it hit North Carolina, the eye had largely disintegrated and the strength was downgraded to a Category 1, which was generous. Irene’s swing through New York and New England consisted of a mere tropical storm—lots of rain and wind with some flooding. There ended up being no real reason for FEMA’s involvement with Irene and her remnant rain and wind.
Yet, like Hurricane Dean a couple of years ago—when FEMA spent $50 million for a cloudy day in Houston—FEMA likely spent tens of millions preparing for Irene and will drop a lot more on declarations issued to states because of Irene. The federalization of fairly routine natural disasters continues unabated.
At least Cantor’s call for spending cuts will force Washington to decide whether it wants to waste finite federal funds on FEMA’s record-setting pace of declarations this year or reserve federal funds for truly catastrophic events and other federal priorities.
Enabling FEMA to hit DEFCON 5 over a tropical storm should require spending cuts.
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