ATLANTA (AP) — A summer of natural catastrophes, from epic hurricanes to scorching wildfires, has exposed another peril in disaster-prone states: How to pay for the rescues, repairs and rebuilding.
The combined tab from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is expected to hit $200 billion or more. While the federal government is expected to pay most of that, the affected state and local governments have to start paying for recovery now and eventually could be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars or more.
States vary on how prepared they are to weather such costs. Florida and South Carolina, both hit by Hurricane Irma, are among the dozen or so states that do not have dedicated disaster funds and opt to cover the expenses after the fact, potentially by dipping into reserves or shifting money from other state agencies.
Experts say such pay-as-you-go disaster funding can be risky. Add an economic downturn when reserves are low and budgets are tight, and state and local officials could easily find themselves struggling to pay for recovery and rebuilding.
“Thankfully, our economy is in pretty good shape right now,” said state Rep. Terry England, chairman of the House budget committee in Georgia, where all …read more
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