Possible FEMA cuts worrisome for MEMA

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – President Trump is proposing a cut to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, the agency falls under the Department of Homeland Security which is expected to see a budget boost.

“Just because the president’s recommendation recommends cuts we don’t think we’re going to see that,” says MEMA Director, Lee Smithson. The president is proposing a potential cut when it comes to flood mapping, something Smithson says he’s not too concerned.  “Our flood maps are very current. We’re not worried about that at all because we do have very current maps.”

Right now FEMA has an acting administrator, Bob Fenton. President Trump appointed Brock Long as its new agency head, which is still pending approval.  “The fact that the Senate hasn’t confirmed Brock Long as the FEMA administrator really has no impact on us right now,” adds Smithson.

According to Smithson FEMA released Friday its grant information for the next fiscal year.

“The country gets $350 million dollars in an emergency management performance grants which go to the states, and that remains at level funding.”

The cuts are only a proposal, but anything is possible when it comes to approving a budget.

“We’re always worried about budget cuts. We can’t stop worrying about them, but I’m not going to stop and ring my hands we’re going to come up with innovative.”

This means getting creative on the state level. Smithson gave MEMA’s Disaster Reserve Program a breath of fresh air when he was appointed as director; going from seven to nearly 400 disaster reservists ready to go when disaster strikes.

“If there’s no disaster happening we don’t pay them.”

Mississippi is fourth in the nation when it comes to the most expensive in disaster coverage.

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