The Truth About Texas and FEMA Dollars

While Texans are still reeling from the effects of Tropical Storm Imelda, a familiar refrain about Texas dependence on FEMA in the face of natural disasters is again making the rounds. Any notion that Texas needs FEMA is misinformation at best and a blatant lie at worst.

It is important to remember that FEMA does not do any actual immediate disaster relief. That is handled by the Texas Military Department as well as local and State law enforcement and volunteers. FEMA’s primary role is logistics and administration. In short, they come in and take control of what Texas is already doing well.

In the aftermath, FEMA coordinates the distribution of some, not all, of the resources being funneled into the areas affected by the disaster. That includes cots for shelters, some bottled water, and some ice. However, this a an extremely small percentage when compared to the outpouring of donations from private relief organizations, churches, and individuals.

As anyone in Texas can tell you, FEMA gets in the way more than it helps. During Hurricanes Rita and Ike, they refused to distribute ice collected for the disaster zones until county sheriffs ordered it to be done with or without FEMA authorization. During the Bastrop wildfires, they turned away firefighters that came from all over Texas to help fight the fires. These are just two examples that show how the same bureaucratic cancer that infects every other Federal agency is at its absolute worst in FEMA.

What FEMA really does is hand out money. Looking at FEMA’s assistance in the wake of Hurricane Ike makes for a solid comparison. FEMA approved 121,666 Individual Assistance Applications and spent $532 million on individual assistance. It spent another $2.2 billion on Public Assistance Grants. In total, for Hurricane Ike, FEMA assistance in Texas totaled approximately $2.7 billion.

Annually, Texans pay approximately $120-160 billion more into the Federal system than we receive. Since Hurricane Ike in 2007, that amounts to over $1 trillion in overpayments. This is over 300 times what FEMA spent on Hurricane Ike. This has the same negative economic impact as an event the magnitude of Hurricane Harvey hitting Texas every 9 months.

The bottom line is this: every dollar that FEMA spends in Texas first comes from the pockets of the Texas taxpayers. FEMA is only in the picture to retroactively justify the theft of our tax money by the Federal Government under the guise of a natural disaster.

Texans take care of Texans. The world saw it happen during Hurricane Harvey and we’re seeing it happen right now. Texans could do it much better if we kept the money that we overpay.

Image attribution: “FEMA building_02” by US Department of State is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 

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