FEMA will continue to help in the event of natural disasters, even though reports state that its Disaster Relief Fund has just $1.01 billion left in its coffers and that the federal agency could run out of money by Friday, Director Brock Long said Wednesday.
"The president, the Department of Homeland Security, we've all been working together to directly inform the Congress, so [they] know what they need to do to be able to give us the enduring authority to push forward," Long told the "CBS This Morning" program. "There's great lines of communication."
He insisted that FEMA is not out of money, and even if it was, "we're not going to let money get in the way of saving lives, either."
On Tuesday, Bloomberg News reported, quoting a FEMA spokeswoman who asked not to be identified by name, that FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund, which finances disaster response and recovery activity, had the $1.01 billion on hand, with $541 million "immediately available" for recovery efforts for Hurricane Harvey.
Last Thursday, the fund had $2.14 billion, but an estimated $9.3 billion has been spent every hour since then, notes Bloomberg.
President Donald Trump's administration has asked Congress to add $8 billion to the FEMA fund. On Wednesday, House members will vote on whether to extend funding for Harvey, but the Senate is considering if it should add a measure suspending the federal debt limit. If that happens, the legislation will return to the House for further work.
Meanwhile, Long said more than 100 FEMA staffers have already been deployed to Florida to be ready to respond to Hurricane Irma, with several workers remaining in Texas to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
"You know, my confidence is high," said Long. "Despite everything that's going on, this is what we test and train for."
He noted that FEMA has operations out of an office in Puerto Rico, and has staff in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"The agency's staffing levels are coming up," said Long. "We have over 700 people right now prepositioned to be able to support our partners."
As Irma rolls in, Long said that he hopes that structures in Florida that were put up after 2001 were built to at least withstand the force of a Category 5 hurricane. Meanwhile, he's not yet making predictions about where Irma will land.
"I've never put a lot of confidence in a five-day forecast," said Long. "What I mean by that is it's no disrespect to our partners down at the National Hurricane Center, with some of the very best meteorologists in the globe down there ... I never look at one singular forecast. I look at the past three to recognize trends and what the system is doing to make better decisions.
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