Biden Deploys FEMA In 11 States To Help Vaccination Effort

A FEMA healthcare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccination
A FEMA healthcare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccination
A FEMA healthcare worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccination (image via FEMA)

President Biden ordered FEMA to jump in a help with vaccination efforts across the country, and things are already happening on the ground in several states.

From NBC News:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is deploying or supporting vaccination efforts in at least 11 states after President Joe Biden ordered the government to get on a war footing in his mission to vaccinate 300 million Americans by summer’s end.

The states are Arizona, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, according to a FEMA official. Federal workers are also supporting efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the official said.

FEMA has reportedly already set up vaccination sites in four of those states – Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and Washington.

In a statement, FEMA said they are “determining where staff support, supplies and other resource gaps are — and then working to fill them.

Items that are funded can include:

• Supplies and commodities needed to safely store and administer the vaccine.
• Transportation support and reasonable, necessary security for refrigerated trucks.
• Medical and support staff.
• Communication materials that keep the public informed.
• Training personnel on vaccine distribution and administration.

Trump Cuts Off Forest Fire/FEMA Money For California

Donald Trump announced this morning he has cut off forest fire FEMA funds from California ‘unless they get their act together’ regarding forest management.

Note: California sends far more money to the federal government than it gets back in federal aid.

FEMA Contracted Company For 30 Million Meals For Puerto Rico, Only 50K Delivered

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the Federal Emergency Management Agency turned to an Atlanta-based entrepreneur to deliver 30 million meals to the devastated island of Puerto Rico at a cost of $156 million.

Only 50,000 were ever delivered.

From The New York Times:

For this huge task, FEMA tapped Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past. FEMA awarded her $156 million for the job, and Ms. Brown, who is the sole owner and employee of her company, Tribute Contracting LLC, set out to find some help.

Ms. Brown, who is adept at navigating the federal contracting system, hired a wedding caterer in Atlanta with a staff of 11 to freeze-dry wild mushrooms and rice, chicken and rice, and vegetable soup. She found a nonprofit in Texas that had shipped food aid overseas and domestically, including to a Houston food bank after Hurricane Harvey.

By the time 18.5 million meals were due, Tribute had delivered only 50,000. And FEMA inspectors discovered a problem: The food had been packaged separately from the pouches used to heat them. FEMA’s solicitation required “self-heating meals.”

“Do not ship another meal. Your contract is terminated,” Carolyn Ward, the FEMA contracting officer who handled Tribute’s agreement, wrote to Ms. Brown in an email dated Oct. 19 that Ms. Brown provided to The New York Times. “This is a logistical nightmare.”

Brown refers to herself as “almost like a broker” working to subcontract out all her work. She has no employees and no specific skill in any one arena.

Brown is disputing the cancelled saying the agency did not specify that the meals and heaters had to be together.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico continues to struggle.

FEMA Website Removes Any Stats That Show Slow Progress In Puerto Rico

The website for the Federal Emergency Management Agency has removed any statistics that might show slow progress being made in Puerto Rico regarding the response and recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

From the Washington Post:

As of Wednesday, half of Puerto Ricans had access to drinking water and 5 percent of the island had electricity, according to statistics published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on its Web page documenting the federal response to Hurricane Maria.

By Thursday morning, both of those key metrics were no longer on the Web page.

FEMA spokesman William Booher noted that both measures are still being reported on a website maintained by the office of Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, According to that website, which is in Spanish, 9.2 percent of the island now has power and 54.2 percent of residents have access to drinking water. Booher said that these measures are also shared in news conferences and media calls that happen twice a day, but he didn’t elaborate on why they are no longer on the main FEMA page.

“Our mission is to support the governor and his response priorities through the unified command structure to help Puerto Ricans recover and return to routines. Information on the stats you are specifically looking for are readily available” on the website maintained by the governor’s office, Booher said.

Watch below as Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez of Illinois rails at the Trump administration’s response to the horrific devastation in Puerto Rico: “They don’t want you to know the truth.”

Senate Reaches Deal to Avert Government Shutdown

From the NYTimes: The Senate reached a tentative spending deal Monday night that would head off a threatened government shutdown over the handling of disaster aid, Senate officials said.

The apparent breakthrough came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency indicated it had enough money to squeak through the end of the fiscal year Friday night, eliminating one of the main points of partisan contention: whether to offset a quick infusion of funds to the agency with cuts elsewhere as House Republicans had insisted. Democrats in both the House and Senate had resisted that approach.

Under the agreement, funding for government agencies — including FEMA — that is due to run out at midnight on Friday, would be extended for six weeks at a level set in this year’s debt limit deal.

But that legislation will still require the approval of the House, which is in recess this week with lawmakers scattered around the country. Senate leaders are hoping that the House will agree to adopt the stop-gap measure in a pro forma session later this week without all its members being called back. The Senate was also going to pass a measure that would extend spending by one week to buy time for a longer agreement.

“We have basically resolved this issue,” Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, said on the floor Monday night.