By Ben Robinson
US disaster relief agency FEMA has begun responding to Hurricane Laura after it made landfall on the US gulf coast yesterday. The hurricane is the tenth strongest to hit the US and has already killed at least 32 people. The hardest hit states were Texas and Louisiana, with other areas in Puerto Rico, Southern Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas also affected, however the full extent of the damage is still being determined. Six of those killed were in Louisiana, a state whose people are still scarred by Hurricane Katrina and the government’s failure to manage the natural disaster.
While Laura stormed across the coast, the Republican Party hosted its national convention, in which almost no time was given to address the ongoing natural disaster and widespread destruction. They instead praised themselves for their response to COVID-19, even though the crisis is ongoing and the US currently has the highest rate of infection in the world. Donald Trump considered the US a “little bit lucky” regarding Hurricane Laura, and saw no reason to postpone any planned events for fear of endangering his re-election chances.
By executive order, Trump requisitioned $44 billion from FEMA for unemployment payments when Congress could not reach an agreement for more COVID-19 relief, but these funds will soon run out. Already strained by COVID-19, the fires in California, and what is expected to be an extremely active hurricane season, FEMA’s funds will soon fall to $25 billion, at which point the unemployment payments will end. The US state is facing the deepening economic crisis of imperialism, and as it becomes clearer by the day that it cannot adequately deal with this, it is running from crisis to crisis trying to put out fires while only fanning the flames.