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FEMA is Running Out of Money: Why You Need to Prepare Now

Written by Ben Slaughter 

The United States has been battered by a record number of tornadoes and devastating storms this year, resulting in a staggering financial toll. As we head into what forecasters predict will be an extreme summer, marked by severe weather and punishing heat waves, the nation’s disaster relief agency is expected to run out of funds before the season ends.

So far, the US has endured 11 extreme weather events, each causing over $1 billion in damage, amounting to a total cost of $25.1 billion. This alarming figure, reported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ties for the second-highest number of such disasters on record and doesn’t even account for the extreme weather in the second half of May.

This poses a significant challenge for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), whose major disaster relief fund is projected to experience a more than $1.3 billion shortfall by the end of summer, according to a May report. Florida’s two Republican senators recently wrote to FEMA, seeking clarity on how much additional funding is needed to respond to the upcoming hurricane season.

In a statement, a FEMA spokesperson emphasized that the agency is working with Congress to ensure sufficient funding is available. The spokesperson also mentioned that, without additional funding, FEMA will take steps to ensure resources are available to support ongoing lifesaving and life-sustaining activities. A funding reserve is set aside for initial response and recovery operations in the event of a major catastrophe like a hurricane.

The financial strain on FEMA is alarming because it highlights the vulnerability of the nation's disaster response system at a time when extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe. With the massive shortfall of over $1.3 billion by the end of summer, the agency may struggle to provide adequate support for communities devastated by hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. This funding gap could lead to delays in response and recovery efforts, leaving countless families without the help they need during critical moments. 

Record-Breaking Tornadoes and Deadly Storms

The unprecedented number of destructive storms reflects the increasing severity of weather events in the US. This spring saw the second-highest number of tornadoes recorded since 1950, with more than 780 confirmed tornadoes in April and May. Some of these storms have been deadly, including an EF4 tornado in Greenfield, Iowa, that killed five people, and another in Cooke County, Texas, that claimed seven lives.

Severe thunderstorms have also wreaked havoc, with hurricane-force wind gusts and destructive hail impacting multiple cities. A derecho with 100 mph winds turned debris into projectiles, shattering glass windows in downtown Houston skyscrapers and leaving nearly a million homes and businesses without power.

Why This Summer Could Be the Most Extreme Weather Season Yet

As scientists warn of continued destruction this summer due to the dramatic warming of the planet and oceans from burning fossil fuels, the stage is set for a supercharged hurricane season and dangerous heat waves. Summer, historically the season with the most billion-dollar disasters, is expected to bring even more extreme weather.

With record-breaking ocean heat anticipated to feed hurricanes and El Niño predicted to give way to La Niña, conditions are aligning for an above-average Atlantic hurricane season. Nearly every type of extreme weather is possible during summer, including severe thunderstorms and intense heat waves. Above-average temperatures are expected across the Lower 48 states, with June already marking the hottest start on record in Las Vegas.

Steps To Take:

Given the alarming increase in extreme weather events and the potential for FEMA to run out of funds, it's crucial to be proactive in preparing for emergencies. Here are some recommendations to ensure your family is ready:

1: Create an Emergency Plan: Develop a family emergency plan that includes communication strategies, meeting points, and evacuation routes. Make sure everyone in your household knows the plan and practices it regularly.

2:  Get Emergency Essentials: Ensure you have enough non-perishable food and water to last at least three days for each family member. ReadyWise offers a variety of emergency food kits that are easy to store and prepare, providing peace of mind during uncertain times. Shop Emergency Essentials Here

3: Prepare an Emergency Kit: In addition to food and water, your emergency kit should include essential items like a first aid kit, flashlights, batteries, medications, important documents, and cash. ReadyWise's emergency kits can help you assemble all necessary supplies in one convenient package. Shop Emergency Kits Here

4: Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with weather forecasts and alerts from reliable sources. Sign up for local emergency notifications and download weather apps to stay informed about potential threats. Readywise Blog

5: Secure Your Home: Take steps to protect your home from severe weather. This includes securing loose items outside, reinforcing windows and doors, and ensuring your roof and gutters are in good condition.

6: Know Your Insurance: Review your insurance policies to ensure you have adequate coverage for different types of disasters. Consider additional coverage for flood or earthquake damage if you live in high-risk areas.

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