FEMA chief: Feds spending $200 million a day on hurricane, wildfire recovery

FEMA chief: Feds spending $200 million a day on hurricane, wildfire recovery

The federal government is spending an estimated $200 million per day on recovery efforts following a trio of hurricanes and a severe wildfire season, a top official said Tuesday.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long told senators that the agency still has “numbers coming in” about the costs associated with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the wildfires in western states.

Asked whether the Trump administration would request more emergency funding for the disasters, Long implied that was likely.

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“I don’t think we have a good handle on the total cost of this, but you can rest assured my guys will be in touch with your staff members to make sure we don’t fumble the ball when it comes to disaster recovery, and we’ll do our best to take care of taxpayer dollars,” Long said at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee meeting Tuesday.

Lawmakers and the White House have approved two major disaster relief bills this fall to help Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico and other states and territories recover from a record-breaking hurricane season, and to fund wildfire cleanup efforts in California and other western states.

The two bills provide $51.5 billion for disaster agencies. An earlier spending deal included $1.1 billion in disaster funding, as well.

Long said recovery efforts in Texas and Florida focus on clearing debris and improving the housing situation. California faces similar issues, as well as hazardous material removal and watershed management concerns.

Puerto Rico still faces a significant recovery effort after Maria, with electricity still out for most of the territory.

“Everybody’s in different stages, but the long-term recovery is going to be long,” FEMA's Long said.