Trump says FEMA is 'ready' for tropical storm Dorian — but it's had no leader for months


FEMA has been without a leader since March.

Trump proclaimed on Wednesday that FEMA is "ready" for Tropical Storm Dorian. But the agency has been without a permanent leader for more than five months.

The storm is forecast to hit Puerto Rico and then the east coast of Florida.

"We are tracking closely tropical storm Dorian as it heads, as usual, to Puerto Rico," Trump wrote. "FEMA and all others are ready, and will do a great job."

But the lead disaster relief agency has been without a permanent leader since March 8 of this year, the last day for Brock Long.

"Pete Gaynor has been leading the agency in an acting role as President Donald Trump's permanent nominee, Jeffrey Byard, remains unconfirmed. Unlike some Trump nominees, Byard's nomination shows no sign of problems, but still awaits a full floor vote by the Senate," ABC News reported.

Long was in the job for just under a year after Trump appointed him in June of 2017.

Long left under a cloud of scandal after he was caught charging taxpayers over $150,000 when he used government-owned vehicles to travel between Washington and his home in North Carolina.

It was under his leadership that FEMA racked up so many mistakes and failures in responding to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

After studies attributed nearly 3,000 American deaths to the storm (Trump kept claiming the number was only in the double digits), Long complained, "I don't know why the studies were done."

As Trump kept proclaiming that the response had been a "success," it emerged that FEMA denied 97% of the requests made by island residents for funeral aid.

In one notable instance, the agency paid $30 million for plastic tarps that never arrived.

Even with Trump's leadership team in place, the storm resulted in a death toll far outstripping Hurricane Katrina.

In addition to the leadership vacuum at the agency, Trump has been stripping money from FEMA and using it to back up his harsh border policies.

"To fund temporary locations for court hearings for asylum-seekers along the southern border, ICE would gain $155 million, all from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund," NBC News reported.

FEMA was not ready for Hurricane Maria — thousands died and were hurt as the storm hit and during the chaos of its aftermath. The agency is even less prepared now and has no permanent leader.

But Trump says it is "ready."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.