While Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency for Tropical Storm Imelda, it does not qualify individuals for financial assistance. That will have to come from FEMA.
Five deaths are linked to floods from Tropical Storm Imelda, the worst storm in Texas since Hurricane Harvey and one of the wettest tropical cyclones in the nation’s history, according to the National Weather Service.
Imelda dumped as much as 43 inches of rain in some parts of southeast Texas, according to the National Weather Service. In comparison, Harvey dropped about 60 inches of rain.
Although Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of emergency Thursday morning, it does not qualify individuals for financial aid. That would have to come from a federal disaster declaration, which would release federal dollars for public assistance or individual assistance. Federal Emergency Management Agency agents began doing damage assessments Monday morning, said a FEMA spokesperson. It’s unclear how long that will take, the spokesperson said.
Public assistance is money reimbursed to state and local governments and certain nonprofit organizations for the cost of disaster-related repairs and protective measures, according to the FEMA website. The affected area must reach a little over $37 million in public damages to qualify, according to Seth Christensen, a representative for the Texas Division of Emergency Management. For individual assistance, paid out to individuals for housing and other disaster-related needs, there need to be 800 homes that took in 18 inches or more of water and are not covered by insurance, Christensen said.
In the meantime, community members and local organizations are helping how they can. A line formed around First Baptist Church in Winnie on Sunday as people waited to get food, water and other supplies, according to The Beaumont Enterprise.
In Beaumont, Satchel Smith is being lauded as a hero for keeping the Homewood Suites in Beaumont up and running, according to CNN. The storm trapped the college student and 90 other guests in the hotel. For nearly two days, Smith was the hotel’s only employee, the story says. He handled everything, including maintenance, room service and keeping everyone fed.
President Donald Trump was in Houston on Sunday for an event with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He touched on the recent disaster during the event.
“The entire American nation is standing by your side,” Trump said. “We love you, we support you and we will be there every step of the way.”
Trump vowed to make the federal government “totally available” for Imelda relief, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Trump administration was criticized for the handling of disaster relief funds after Harvey. A year after Congress approved $16 billion in disaster funding for various areas impacted by disasters — most of the money allocated for Texas and Puerto Rico — recipients were still waiting on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to publish rules governing how those grant funds may be used.
Trump administration quietly guts COVID-19 paid leave provision that already excluded 75 percent of workers
The Trump administration has quietly issued new guidance that will exempt many small businesses from having to provide some workers with paid leave during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Department of Labor issued a temporary rule Wednesday that effectively exempted businesses with fewer than 50 workers from being required to provide 12 weeks of paid leave for workers whose children are suddenly at home from school or child care under the coronavirus stimulus package signed by President Donald Trump.
This article first appeared in Salon.
Trump is deploying national guardsman to provide pandemic support without any health benefits: report
The National Guard are an essential part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of them have potentially been exposed to infected civilians, making it a particularly dangerous and important time to serve.
But according to The Daily Beast, the guard has been deployed in a way that prevents them from being eligible for the military's health care system.
"The approximately 20,000 guardsmen who have been called up to help states around the country deal with the spread of the coronavirus are federalized on what’s called Title 32 status, which puts them in command of their various state governors but with the federal government paying costs," wrote senior national security correspondent Spencer Ackerman. "But according to the National Guard’s advocates and the U.S. governors’ association, the guardsmen are activated on orders that last 30 days. That puts them one single day shy of the requirement allowing the military health insurance system known as TRICARE — think of it as Medicare For All In Uniform — to cover them."
Vaccine researchers grew ‘alarmed’ as Trump’s CDC wasted weeks of their time with a flawed coronavirus test: report
According to a report from the Washington Post, in the early days as health officials became concerned about the possibility of the COVID-19 pandemic blossoming out of China, researchers sat and wasted days they could have used to start developing a vaccine because they were assured by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that a testing kit was on its way.
As it turned out, that test was flawed.
Relying on emails and interviews, the Post is reporting, "On a Jan. 15 conference call, a leading scientist at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured local and state public health officials from across the nation that there would soon be a test to detect a mysterious virus spreading from China. Stephen Lindstrom told them the threat was remote and they may not need the test his team was developing 'unless the scope gets much larger than we anticipate,' according to an email summarizing the call."