But It’s Been 12 Years, and FEMA Is Still Working on Katrina Recovery
Puerto Rico. Trump tweeted that first responders can’t stay in Puerto Rico “forever,” but the Federal Emergency Management Agency can stay involved in disaster relief for years after catastrophes. FEMA was still funding relief efforts in fiscal 2017 from Hurricane Katrina which happened a dozen years ago. In Puerto Rico, raw sewage continues to be released into the waterways. There are reports of people trying to obtain drinking water from Superfund sites. Four people have died, and 10 sickened with leptospirosis, a bacterial illness spread through contact with contaminated animal urine. The disease can cause meningitis, kidney damage or liver failure. White House chief of staff John Kelly said the U.S. would “stand with Puerto Rico until the job is done.” In contrast to his comments on Puerto Rico, Trump tweeted in August to Texas and Louisiana: “We are with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you EVERY SINGLE DAY AFTER….”
Fire. The death toll from Northern California’s fires jumped to at least 29, and hundreds of people are still missing. Emergency teams have brought in cadaver dogs to search for bodies. Fifteen were found in Sonoma County, eight in Mendocino County, four in Yuba County and two in Napa County. Sonoma County considered sending a mass alert to cell phones in the region on Sunday but decided against it because of concerns that it would create widespread panic and hinder the ability of first responders to combat the blazes. Fire officials are calling in more troops and equipment from agencies around the United States and the federal government.
Affordable Care Act. Trump is asking federal agencies to look for ways to expand the use of plans by groups of small businesses that pool together to buy health insurance. He also is asking that the definition of short-term insurance, which is exempt from the Affordable Care Act rules, be broadened. This could result in cheaper, substandard plans and damage Affordable Care Act marketplaces. “It will destroy the small-group market,” said Tim Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University. “We’ll be back to where we were before the Affordable Care Act.”
Unfair housing. Missouri could lose an estimated $500,000 in federal housing funds after officials found a new state law doesn’t comply with federal discrimination rules. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said the law making it harder to sue for discrimination resulted in state and federal rules no longer being “substantially equivalent.” A HUD official said Missouri must restore the law to meet federal rules by March 1 if it wants to continue to participate in the Fair Housing Assistance Program. The law requires plaintiffs prove a landlord or bank intentionally denied them housing based solely on race, sex or other protected status to win a case.