Politics

FEMA: US spending $200M a day on weather-related disasters

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The U.S. is spending more than $200 million every day in response to recent hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the nation, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, and cited the 25 million Americans impacted by natural disasters in the last 50 days, along with the more than four million registered for emergency aid.

Long said that FEMA would need more money than the $52 billion in emergency relief that has been allocated thus far.

But on a more controversial topic, Long slammed the $300 million no-bid contract in Puerto Rico warded to Whitefish Energy Holdings, a tiny Montana company.

Long said there was “ a lot wrong” with the contract and said FEMA officials only learned about the deal after it had already been signed by the board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

“No lawyer inside FEMA would ever have agreed to some of the language in that contract,” Long said.

Pressed by members on the committee, chaired by Sen. Ron Johnson, R- Wis., on how FEMA would ensure Puerto Rico’s electricity was restored, Long said he would need additional legal authority from Congress to spend federal funds to rebuild the island’s power grid better than it was.

Approximately 67 percent of the residents on the island are without power. Federal officials said the goal is to have electricity restored to at least half the island by the end of November. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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