As Irene was developing, landing, damaging the states and communities along the Eastern seaboard and inland as well, officialdom was full of praise for the “new FEMA” – for the planning, co-ordination and ongoing interaction, relief and support. Everyone was in the loop. In a Washington Post story by Ed O’Keefe and Rosalind S. Helderman elected officials noted:
“We have a new FEMA,” Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) declared Sunday, adding that the agency “is much stronger than the one we had during Hurricane Katrina.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), a frequent critic of federal spending, also said: “So far, FEMA has been very responsive.”
Now in the aftermath as the recovery work goes forward, the reality created by the current fiscal climate is rearing it’s ugly head. The old cliche “robbing Peter to pay Paul” comes to mind as GOP leaders like Eric Canter – whose home state of Virginia was hard hit by Irene – is sounding as if Irene and her wake will be yet another cudgel for budget battling. Will those in the path of Irene, and the recent east coast earthquake and tornado-ravaged areas across the country sit still as FEMA struggles to give the relief its mission dictates while funding for the agency is questionable? Who will lose so the wrath of Irene can be handled?
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