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In Wake of Irene, FEMA Saving Funds for ‘Immediate Needs’

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Saturday it is temporarily halting payments for long-term repair and rebuilding projects in order to pay for damage caused by Hurricane Irene.

FEMA said it is implementing Immediate Needs Funding guidance, restricting funds to tasks such as debris removal and removal of health and safety hazards.

“It is critical that we adhere to these guidelines to ensure that we are able to continue our ongoing and future response and recovery efforts,” FEMA said in a statement.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in May the agency’s disaster relief fund was running low, just above $1 billion.

The Hill reports the White House is requesting Congress pass a disaster funding bill, saying it is necessary to get the government running through Oct. 1, 2012. However, Democrats and Republicans disagree on whether to offset the emergency funds with other spending cuts.

The U.S. has already suffered nine natural disasters costing a billion dollars each this year. That ties 2008 for the most billion-dollar disasters on record since 1980.

President Barack Obama has declared emergencies in nine states and the District of Columbia, opening federal funds to help pay for emergency response.

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