NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Disaster Agency Shovels Money Freely

July 15, 1998

Since President Clinton took office, he has proclaimed an average of almost one "major disaster" per week. Those proclamations have allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to dole out millions of dollars to organizations that have little, if any, relationship to disaster relief, critics charge.

  • After the 1994 Northridge, Calif., earthquake, FEMA handed out nearly $670,000 to drug abuse programs, to be used for "crisis counseling."
  • The same quake prompted FEMA to hand Catholic and Jewish charities about $1.5 million -- again, for "crisis counseling."
  • In the wake of 1997 North Dakota floods, FEMA gave $712,000 to 200 "paraprofessionals" acting as "crisis counselors" -- who, according to an agency publication, visited elderly women at a nursing hospital and let them "reminisce for hours about earlier, more peaceful years in Grand Forks."

Critics also decry FEMA's latest ploy to dish out taxpayers' money -- going around the country and buying up the homes of those who through negligence, stupidity or irresponsibility built in areas with the highest risk for floods.

Observers find it ironic that Congress is authorizing FEMA to spend millions of dollars for such buyouts at the same time President Clinton is fighting against any legislation requiring the federal government to compensate landowners after the government prohibits them from making any viable use of their land once an endangered species has been found or a "wetland" declared.

Source: James Bovard (Competitive Enterprise Institute), "Extended Run of the FEMA Follies," Washington Times, July 15, 1998.


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