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What Money For Trump’s Border Wall Could Buy In Disaster Relief Funding

Kaeli Subberwal

After Hurricane Harvey made landfall Friday night, President Donald Trumplet loose a series of tweets. Some emphasized that the “wonderful” response to the hurricane was “going well,” but another repeated the president’s assertion that Mexico would pay for a border wall, or as the tweet has it, “THE WALL.”

In their proposed homeland security budget, HouseRepublicans in July allocated $1.6 billion to pay for construction of the border wall, a fraction of the $21.6 billion that the Department of Homeland Security estimates the wall would cost. Trump has since threatened a government shutdown if Democrats, who consider funding for the wall a non-starter, do not include money for the president’s pet project in government spending legislation. Meanwhile, Texas communities continue to grapple with the effects of a storm that has displaced tens of thousands of people.

Although Harvey could cause up to $40 billion in damage over several days, there are many ways that the government could use the proposed $1.6 billion set aside for the border wall to help respond to the disaster in Texas.

Flood Preparation

In his budget for 2018, President Trump proposed a cut of $600 million to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s state and local programs. That budget proposal also would eliminate funding for efforts to improve and redraw flood maps and cut about $90 million from the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, according to The New York Times. The $1.6 billion proposed for the border wall could provide this funding twice over.

A family is rescued from rising floodwaters in the Beaumont Place community in southeast Texas on Monday. (Jonathan Bachman / Reuters)


The Texas Diaper Bank is raising funds for disaster relief kits for families with young children. As of Monday afternoon, it had raised more than $300,000.

An infant is evacuated from a home in Houston on Monday. The Texas Diaper Bank is raising funds to help families with small children. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Emergency Supplies

The crowdfunding site Global Giving aims to raise $2 million, less than 1 percent of the proposed budget for Trump’s wall, to provide emergency relief to victims of Hurricane Harvey in the forms of shelter, food, water, fuel and personal hygiene products.

Brad Matheney helps a man in a wheelchair navigate a flooded street in Galveston, Texas, on Saturday. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Unemployment And Relocation

FEMA and the state of Louisiana together provided $321.5 million in unemployment assistance to nearly 185,000 people who lost their jobs as a result of hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, according to a 2015 report. They also provided $17.9 million to help more than 10,000 families relocate.

A homeless couple rests at the Seashore Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Jan. 3, 2016. Biloxi continues to struggle with recovery efforts since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. (Spencer Platt via Getty Images)

Relief for Pets

Among the victims of Hurricane Harvey are pets. One shelter in the Austin, Texas, area is helping to save animals in the hurricane’s path of damage; the shelter estimates that the intake process alone could cost $20,000, and expenses could continue to rise as the fallout from the hurricane mounts.

Rescued dogs are taken to an evacuation center in Bellaire, a city within the Houston metropolitan area. (Nick Oxford / Reuters)

Disaster Cleanup From Past Storms

In May, the federal government denied North Carolina more than 99 percent of the funds it requested for the state’s recovery effort after Hurricane Matthew, which killed 28 people in October 2016. The state requested $929 million to repair houses, businesses and public facilities, and to provide physical and mental health services, among other goals. The Trump administration authorized only $6.1 million, which is just 0.38 percent of the proposed border wall funding.

Lumberton, North Carolina, residents take refuge from Hurricane Matthew's floodwaters in October 2016. Less than 1 percent of the state's request for federal assistance after the storm was approved. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters)
  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.