Irene forces FEMA to shift funds from Joplin

KANSAS CITY, Missouri - The Federal Emergency Management Agency is cutting off payments to rebuild roads and schools in Joplin, Mo. because of Hurricane Irene.

The agency says it will still pay people who are eligible for individual storm assistance relating back to the May tornado.

But FEMA's disaster relief fund has dropped under the $1 billion the agency likes to keep on hand, and newer disasters like Irene are starting to take priority.

"What it does do, we stop funding new work in older disasters that have not already been in the system to maintain funds to continue to support the survivors, as well as the response to this disaster," FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said Sunday. "We are not taking any money away from survivors."

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill issued a statement Sunday, saying more needs to be done in Joplin.

"FEMA should be prepared for all types of disasters and have the resources to respond rapidly and stay until the work is done, and until the community is made whole again," McCaskill said in the statement.

Early Sunday morning, President Obama started signing off on disaster declarations for states up and down the east coast and Puerto Rico.

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