Hurricane Irene Clean-Up Begins, Despite FEMA Funding Concerns [VIDEO]
Hurricane Irene may end up being one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in U.S. history. Industry experts currently put the storm's damage at $7 billion to $10 billion; however, much of that destruction may not be covered by insurance because it was caused by flooding and not winds. Flooding is often excluded from standard insurance policies.
Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency has less than $800 million currently available for disaster relief, administrator Craig Fugate said recovery efforts will proceed. FEMA "will work with the White House on funds needed to recover from this and other disasters," Fugate said. Despite these assurances, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said any new money for FEMA must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.
Hurricane Irene made landfall on Saturday morning in North Carolina, moved northward along the coast then slammed into Little Egg Inlet, N.J., as a Category 1 storm. Despite predictions, Irene then lost steam as it lumbered toward New England. But its torrential rains and strong winds still managed to cause significant damage. Three days after the storm, rivers and inland streams continue to rise, forcing thousands of homeowners and businesses to evacuate.
President Barack Obama has issued emergency declarations for North Carolina, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont. Teams from the FEMA also have been dispatched to help coordinate rescue and recovery efforts in places where epic floods destroyed towns, roads and bridges.
On Aug. 30, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie toured areas flooded by the swollen Passaic River, which crested at its second highest level on record. "I saw extraordinary despair," Gov. Christie said. "For these communities that have lost everything, relief cannot come soon enough."
At the time of this writing, Irene has been blamed for at least 44 deaths in 13 states. More than 2.5 million people are still without power.