Assistance needed when disasters hit

Published 1:30 am Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hurricane season is two-thirds over and, luckily, the massive storms have stayed away from the Gulf of Mexico. The dire predictions of a post-Katrina hurricane apocalypse have not materialized. Those who live here know that will not be the case forever.

Hurricanes will hit the coast. Tornadoes will continue to pepper the plains, fires will continue to singe California and blizzards will cripple the North. When those disasters happen, the federal government will swoop in via the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide federal aid.

When the U.S. Senate on Tuesday reached an agreement to keep the agency funded, it took a big step toward ending another in a long line of legislative stalemates.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

FEMA plays a large role in disaster recovery. In the immediacy of a disaster, people need answers and they need assistance — and they need them now. The program, if run correctly, provides those services.

Unfortunately, like most government programs there is fraud and abuse. Six years after Hurricane Katrina, stories of people being convicted of fraud still can be found in a quick internet search. The combination of massive federal dollars and unscrupulous people who thrive on taking advantage of an emergency can be a recipe for another disaster.

Funding FEMA, at least in the short term, is necessary. Oversight of that money is even more necessary.

Disasters will strike again; that’s inevitable. When they do, the victims will need immediate assistance. FEMA must go on.