The request comes as FEMA's disaster relief fund is running low, with only $3.4 billion remaining due to a series of major disasters.
This follows a previous ask of $12 billion made last month, increasing the total amount requested to support FEMA's disaster relief fund to $16 billion. The need for additional funds arises from recent disasters, including fires in Hawaii and Louisiana, flooding in Florida caused by Hurricane Idalia, and flooding in Vermont in July.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell warned that the disaster relief fund would be depleted by the first half of September if it isn't replenished.
Criswell emphasized that while immediate funding is crucial for responding to ongoing disasters, it isn't a long-term solution. She urged Congress to work on the supplemental request put forth by the administration on FEMA's behalf.
President Joe Biden visited FEMA headquarters and expressed gratitude to the agency's personnel. He pledged the federal government's support for Americans affected by disasters, both immediate and long-term. Biden urged Congress to swiftly approve the FEMA funding request.
Congress is currently in recess for August, with the Senate returning next week and the House returning the following week. Despite the recess, Biden stressed the urgency of passing the FEMA funding request in September.
This development comes amid reports that FEMA officials are staying in luxury resorts in Maui while recovery efforts are ongoing nearby. This has drawn criticism from locals who believe that FEMA officials should be closer to the disaster site. Some have expressed frustrations over federal agencies appearing unaccountable for their actions. (Related: SHAMELESS: FEMA officials turning Maui visit into luxury holiday while Lahaina residents suffer.)
But FEMA officials defended their choice of lodging, stating that it aimed to centralize responders for an efficient response. The agency allegedly negotiated government rates for staff staying in hotels to minimize costs.
"FEMA selects where all responders can be centrally located to ensure the most effective response possible. Due to the lack of available lodging, FEMA negotiated government rates, at the lowest possible cost, for staff temporarily staying in the available hotels. As we transition into recovery, staff will move to longer term, more affordable lodging as they fulfill our commitment to support Maui," the agency said in a statement.
Meanwhile, around a thousand people remain unaccounted for following the Maui fires, and local officials are asking residents to submit DNA in hopes of expediting the process. The death toll stands at 115, a grim figure that first responders expect to swell as relief efforts continue.
The family assistance center so far has collected DNA from 104 families, said Julie French, who is helping lead efforts to identify remains by DNA analysis.
Maui Prosecuting Attorney Andrew Martin, who is running the center, said the number of family members coming in to provide DNA samples is "a lot lower" than in other major disasters around the country, though it wasn’t immediately clear why. "That's our concern, that's why I'm here today, that's why I'm asking for this help," he said.
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Watch this video that talks about FEMA officials staying in five-star resorts in Maui.
This video is from the channel THEHEALTHYAMERICAN, Peggy Hall on Brighteon.com.