What Happens If a Hurricane Comes During the Government Shutdown?

Hurricane Karen is forming in the Gulf of Mexico. A shutdown-strapped FEMA is getting ready.

A handwritten FEMA sign drips in the rain where people were waiting on line to receive 1,500 donated coats from New York Cares in the Far Rockaway neighborhood on November 13, 2012.
National Journal
Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Matt Berman
Oct. 3, 2013, 9:23 a.m.

Hur­ricane watches are now in ef­fect from Grand Isle, La., to In­di­an Pass, Fla. It’s not yet clear how strong the storm, Hur­ricane Kar­en, will be­come as it moves to­ward the Gulf Coast. But even though the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment is shut down, the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency is get­ting ready to re­spond.

In a state­ment Thursday morn­ing, FEMA said it has be­gun to re­call fur­loughed em­ploy­ees “ne­ces­sary to serve func­tions of the agency that pro­tect life and prop­erty.” This is hap­pen­ing in ac­cord­ance with the agency’s shut­down con­tin­gency plan. FEMA’s Hur­ricane Li­ais­on Team in Miami’s Na­tion­al Hur­ricane Cen­ter was re­act­iv­ated Thursday morn­ing.

But not every weath­er agency is up and run­ning. Here is where we would typ­ic­ally give you some in­form­a­tion from the Na­tion­al Ocean­ic and At­mo­spher­ic Ad­min­is­tra­tion. But its web­site, NOAA.gov, is cur­rently down due to the shut­down. Ready.gov, a site that helps Amer­ic­ans set up plans for dis­asters, is not up­dat­ing dur­ing the shut­down.

Des­pite the shut­down, FEMA is do­ing more than just get­ting ready to re­spond to a pos­sible hur­ricane. The agency has enough em­ploy­ees on hand to con­tin­ue its flood-re­lief ef­forts in Col­or­ado and its work help­ing areas of Ok­lahoma hit by a tor­nado in May. Part of the reas­on is that fund­ing for these ef­forts comes from the Dis­aster Re­lief Fund, which isn’t cur­rently af­fected by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment fund­ing lapse.

But FEMA can’t just do everything dur­ing a shut­down. On Wed­nes­day, a con­gres­sion­al hear­ing about the agency’s emer­gency alert sys­tem took place. No one from FEMA was able to at­tend.

What We're Following See More »
JOINS BUSHES, MCCAIN
Romney to Skip Convention
31 minutes ago
THE LATEST

An aide to Mitt Romney confirmed to the Washington Post that the 2102 GOP nominee will not attend the Republican convention this year. He joins the two living Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as 2008 nominee John McCain in skipping the event. Even among living Republican nominees, that leaves only Bob Dole who could conceivably show up. Dole did say in January that he'd prefer Trump to Ted Cruz, but his age (92) could keep him from attending.

Source:
CALIFORNIA MAKES IT 21
FDA to Ban All Tobacco Sales to Minors
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

In a long-awaiting new rule, the Food and Drug Administration will ban sale of all tobacco products—including e-cigarettes—to those under 18. The rule takes effect in 90 days. It's part of a larger package of regulations that "gives FDA authority to regulate—but not to ban—all tobacco products, from e-cigarettes to cigars and hookahs." Meanwhile, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill on Wednesday that would bump the legal age to buy all tobacco products from 18 to 21.

Source:
#NEVERTRUMP
Sen. Sasse Calls for a Third Candidate
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

Sen. Ben Sasse, the most prominent elected official to declare that he's #NeverTrump, wrote an open letter on Facebook to the "majority of Americans who wonder why the nation that put a man on the moon can’t find a healthy leader who can take us forward together." Calling to mind recent conversations at a Fremont, Neb., Walmart, the senator pitted the presumptive general election battle between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as such a "terrible choice" that there would be an appetite for another candidate to emerge. In a parenthetical aside to reporters, Sasse ruled himself out. "Such a leader should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months," he wrote. "Therefore he/she likely can’t be an engaged parent with little kids." Meanwhile, his colleague Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) admitted in a private recording obtained by Politico that Trump hurts his reelection chances.

Source:
UTAH REPUBLICAN
Former Sen. Bob Bennett Dies at 82
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Former Utah Republican Sen. Bob Bennett died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. Bennett was defeated in a primary in 2010 by Tea Party–backed Mike Lee.

Source:
CLINTON HERSELF COULD TESTIFY LATER
Judge Approves Deposition of Clinton Aides
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, approved a joint proposal presented by Judicial Watch and the State Department to take the depositions of officials" involved in the setup and use of Hillary Clinton's private email server, "including Cheryl D. Mills, Clinton's former chief of staff, Huma Abedin, a senior adviser to Clinton, and Bryan Pagliano, a State Department employee who serviced and maintained the server." He said Clinton could be deposed later on, though that may not be necessary.

Source:
×