After Hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday night, President Donald Trump let loose a series of tweets. Some emphasized that the “wonderful” response to the hurricane was “going well,” but another repeated the president’s assertion that Mexico would pay for a border wall, or as the tweet has it, “THE WALL.”
In their proposed homeland security budget, House Republicans in July allocated $1.6 billion to pay for construction of the border wall, a fraction of the $21.6 billion that the Department of Homeland Security estimates the wall would cost. Trump has since threatened a government shutdown if Democrats, who consider funding for the wall a non-starter, do not include money for the president’s pet project in government spending legislation. Meanwhile, Texas communities continue to grapple with the effects of a storm that has displaced tens of thousands of people.
Although Harvey could cause up to $40 billion in damage over several days, there are many ways that the government could use the proposed $1.6 billion set aside for the border wall to help respond to the disaster in Texas.
In his budget for 2018, President Trump proposed a cut of $600 million to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s state and local programs. That budget proposal also would eliminate funding for efforts to improve and redraw flood maps and cut about $90 million from the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, according to The New York Times. The $1.6 billion proposed for the border wall could provide this funding twice over.
The crowdfunding site Global Giving aims to raise $2 million, less than 1 percent of the proposed budget for Trump’s wall, to provide emergency relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey in the forms of shelter, food, water, fuel and personal hygiene products.
Unemployment And Relocation
FEMA and the state of Louisiana together provided $321.5 million in unemployment assistance to nearly 185,000 people who lost their jobs as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, according to a 2015 report. They also provided $17.9 million to help more than 10,000 families relocate.
Relief for Pets
Among the victims of Hurricane Harvey are pets. One shelter in the Austin, Texas, area is helping to save animals in the hurricane’s path of damage; the shelter estimates that the intake process alone could cost $20,000, and expenses could continue to rise as the fallout from the hurricane mounts.
Disaster Cleanup From Past Storms
In May, the federal government denied North Carolina more than 99 percent of the funds it requested for the state’s recovery effort after Hurricane Matthew, which killed 28 people in October 2016. The state requested $929 million to repair houses, businesses and public facilities, and to provide physical and mental health services, among other goals. The Trump administration authorized only $6.1 million, which is just 0.38 percent of the proposed border wall funding.