Joplin Tornado /FEMA
11:20 am
Mon August 29, 2011

McCaskill: funding for Joplin not in jeopardy

Updated at 3:47 p.m. following a press conference with McCaskill

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill says federal funding for Joplin is not in jeopardy.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said last week that funding for some long-term projects in the tornado-ravaged town would be put on hold because of Hurricane Irene.

McCaskill said she was worried initially (see earlier story below) but says she got a better explanation over the weekend.

"I do now realize that the only proposed shift was in order to meet immediate emergency needs in areas that have been impacted given how much money is left in the disaster fund between now and the end of the year,” McCaskill said.

That fund has less than $1 billion with the fiscal year ending in just over a month.

McCaskill says the U.S. House has passed the appropriation for the disaster fund for next year’s budget and she expects the Senate will do the same.

The Missouri Democrat also says she’ll be watching to make sure Joplin gets the money it’s been promised.

Earlier Story

Updated 1:31 p.m. by the Associated Press to clarify that the money is on hold, not diverted.

The federal government has frozen future aid to tornado-ravaged Joplin and other disaster sites as it focuses on
immediate help for victims of Hurricane Irene.

Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Bob Josephson said Monday the agency focuses on immediate needs when its Disaster Relief Fund runs low.

He says individual aid to victims of the tornado that killed 160 people and damaged about 7,500 homes in Joplin will continue for things such as temporary housing. But help with long-term rebuilding projects is on hold.

Josephson says it'll be up to Congress to restore full funding to disaster areas including parts of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Missouri Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt say they are working to ensure that full funding is restored for Joplin.