Hurricane Aftermath

Quibbl checks in on the relief efforts in Texas, Florida and Georgia as the US recovers from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

By Morgan Lee

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The White House was front and center in the immediate aftermath of Harvey & Irma: Congress will play the major role going forward

Hurricane Harvey

Here’s what you know

Harvey made landfall August 25th on the Texas gulf coast as a Category 4 hurricane and remained in the Gulf of Mexico until August 30th. The storm was the first hurricane of Category 3 strength or higher to make US landfall in the last 12 years.

Here’s what you may not know

Because the storm is still so recent, damage estimates are not yet concrete, but early predictions range from $65 to $190 billion. If the actual damage winds up near the top of the ballpark, close to the $190 billion estimate, Harvey would be the most expensive disaster in US history. Who’s responsible for the nearly 200 billion dollar bill? The US government is widely considered to carry substantial responsibility to coordinate and financially support relief efforts. Thus far, the executive branch – President Trump and Vice President Pence – have expressed firm commitment to comprehensive relief from the federal government. Many Congressional conservatives, however, have historically been reluctant to fully fund hurricane relief unless the costs are offset elsewhere in the budget.

What do you think – Will a Congressman call for spending cuts to offset hurricane relief?

Hurricane Irma

Here’s what you know

Hurricane Irma first made landfall in Barbuda (a Caribbean island) on September 6th as a Category 5 storm, then proceeded to hammer other Leeward Islands and Cuba. On September 10th, Irma made landfall in Florida as a Category 4, marking the first time two Category 4 storms had made US landfall within the same hurricane season. Finally, after causing significant damage, Irma was downgraded to tropical storm status on September 11th.

Here’s what you might not know

It’s too soon to tell for sure, but current estimates for damage from the storm place the figure anywhere from $50 to $100 billion. Where does all this money come from? Many individuals use their own savings and insurance plans to cover the costs of rebuilding their own property. Many others, however, especially those not considered to have lived within the “floodplain,” have no insurance to cover the damage.

Enter the The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA provides funding for a range of necessities from clean-up supplies to temporary housing to individuals and organizations who apply for their services. Other government aid comes from The Small Business Administration and large-scale assistance from Congress. The aid amount varies with each storm and often involves its own political storm in Congress as the relief package is put together.

Quibbl: How much Hurricane Irma aid will Florida receive?

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