José López Zamorano | La Red Hispana 
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Almost two years after the scourge of the powerful and destructive hurricane Maria, which left a balance of more than 5,700 dead before and after the storm in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands, the equally intense hurricane Dorian forces to ask if the United States learned the lesson of that tragedy announced.

Although Maria’s catastrophic impact – the most lethal hurricane since Mitch in 1998 – can be attributed a portion of the unusually high number of fatalities, especially in Puerto Rico, it is documented that many deaths were the result of insufficient access to appropriate medical care, a situation complicated by the lack of electricity for weeks.

Although the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has allegedly sought to address these deficiencies through the strengthening of the island’s health system, starting with the need for electricity generators in hospitals and clinics, the controversy is striking Trump’s decision to divert $ 155 million from the FEMA Disaster Fund budget for the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

US media documented that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) notified the US Congress last July that FEMA disaster funds would be channeled to finance the payment of judges to conduct immigration hearings for asylum seeker cases. Although internal transfers of resources in federal agencies are not unusual, it is a concern that has been made in the middle of the hurricane season.

The president of the Internal Security Committee of the House of Representatives, Democrat Bennie Thompson, began efforts to restore funds to the disaster fund, considering that the hurricane season won’t end until November 30.

It is true that it is only a part of the 25,000 million dollars of the total fund of FEMA resources and that the authorities assure that in no way will their central responsibilities be affected, but the unpredictability of the hurricane season calls into question the convenience of eroding FEMA resources.

That reports of the diversion of emergency resources were released amid the scourge of Hurricane Dorian exacerbated the fire of the controversy. Even though the hurricane did not hit the east coast of the United States, it passed dangerously near Puerto Rico and caused unprecedented devastation in the Bahamas.

FEMA has made progress in building a digital system that facilitates finding shelters, informing of emergency supplies and emergency alerts, it is a pity that any progress has been overshadowed by the impression that the emergency policy was held hostage to immigration policy.

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