NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Marketing Disaster Relief

October 28, 1999

President Clinton and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are coming in for harsh criticism for the way they handled Hurricane Floyd operations. Critics say the President sparked a panic which could have led to the loss of untold numbers of lives along the Atlantic seaboard.

Here are some of the events which heaped no credit on the administration, analysts say:

  • President Clinton declared federal emergencies in several states before the storm even touched the continental U.S. -- thereby encouraging state and local governments to issue mandatory evacuation orders to nearly three million residents of coastal areas.
  • That produced some of the worst traffic jams in the history of the South -- and put in jeopardy hundreds of thousands of motorists who could have been stuck in traffic and trapped in swiftly-rising waters if Hurricane Floyd had sped up.
  • The evacuation cost an estimated $2 billion -- with almost all the costs borne by the evacuees.
  • After releasing an initial payment of $528 million in disaster aid and after the storm was over, Clinton pleaded with North Carolina residents to line up for their federal hand-outs -- saying, "So you all need to take advantage of these things."

American taxpayers face over $400 billion of exposure from the heavily subsidized National Flood Insurance Program -- which is more than $700 million in debt because of heavy borrowings to cover its massive losses in recent years. The Treasury Department has already written off more than $1 billion in previous loans to the NFIP.

Events such as these suggest to critics that federal emergency policy is becoming more hysterical and spendthrift every year.

Source: James Bovard (from the American Spectator), "Hysterical Federal Disaster Policies," Investor's Business Daily, October 26, 1999.


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