Can we offer you a flotation device?

Here’s a fun idea – let’s cut funding and stop hiring for agencies that deal with weather disasters at a time when weather disasters are more frequent every year. That should work out well.

This year, key federal agencies that state and local governments and the public depend on still don’t have leaders. Nearly five months after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, NOAA, the agency that oversees the government’s weather forecasting, is still without an administrator, as is the agency that responds to disasters, FEMA.

Well, Donnie’s been very busy. All that golf, all those tweets, all those fascist rallies, all that phoning up dictators to tell them where the subs are at the moment – that eats up the time.

FEMA’s last director, Craig Fugate, who stepped down in January, says day-to-day operations at the agency are in good hands, so he is not concerned about a temporary vacuum at the top. He says, “The bigger challenge is longer term, is setting the tone and direction of the agency; being able to represent the agency in the policy discussions at the highest level of government.”

With no permanent administrator in place for those discussions, FEMA is one of the agencies that have been targeted for significant cuts under the budget the president submitted to Congress. Under that budget, a program that helps states and communities take long-term measures to reduce losses from disasters, the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, has been cut by more than 60 percent. The budget also eliminates funding for an ongoing effort to improve and redraw the nation’s flood maps.

“This is a very harmful approach that’s essentially saying that states are on their own, communities are on their own in terms of responding and recovering from these disasters,” says Rachel Cleetus, a climate policy expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “And the reality is, states just don’t have the budgets.”

And disasters are increasing.

Mind you, the good news is that Congress probably won’t approve the cuts. The bad news is that Trump thinks they’re a good plan.

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