Hurricane Irene cleanup: FEMA not a good friend, says Ron Paul

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul questions FEMA's role in disaster management and relief in light of hurricane Irene. Ron Paul says the federal government can't afford it.

Jim Cole/AP
Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas speaks with business leaders in August in Concord, N.H.

Even as hurricane Irene was roaring up the East Coast, Ron Paul was asking why the federal government has any role in disaster management and relief.

The Texas congressman and GOP presidential candidate’s district includes Galveston, a city frequently hammered by powerful storms from the Gulf of Mexico. When the Federal Emergency Management Agency has intervened there in the past, Paul said:

"FEMA is not a good friend of most people in Texas because they only come in and tell you what you can and can’t do… they hinder the local people.

They contribute to deficit financing and, quite frankly, they don’t have a penny in the bank."

Hurricane Irene cut a swath from the Caribbean to Vermont, taking at least 24 lives and causing an estimated $7 billion in damage due to high winds and flooding. The 300-mile wide storm swept across some of the biggest cities of the East Coast, including Washington, D.C,, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. Irene left millions of people without power, and it could be days or weeks before electricity is restored. Damage assessments continue, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says his state alone faces at last $1 billion in damages.

President Obama praised FEMA Sunday: "This has been an exemplary effort of how good government at every level should be responsive to people's needs and work to keep them safe and protect and promote the nation's prosperity."

FEMA director Craig Fugate promised Sunday to work closely with the White House to determine what type of funds may be needed to help cities and states recover.

Why do you care about Ron Paul's view? This is another indicator that GOP concerns about federal funding now extend even into disaster management. In an additional example, House majority leader Eric Cantor recently said any aid rendered in earthquake relief for his district, which includes Richmond, Va., should be paid for with offsetting cuts.

What do you think? Should the government be in the disaster management business?

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