MSNBC's Rachel Maddow said Tuesday night that, based on documents from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the Department of Homeland Security transferred $9.8 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) over the summer, apparently to support the increased costs of President Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy, including the separation of migrant children from their parents.
BREAKING: Document shows Trump admin took $10 million from FEMA, gave it to ICE for detentions, ahead of 2018 hurricane season. pic.twitter.com/Episis3vt4
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) September 12, 2018
DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton tweeted that "under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts," adding that "the money in question — transferred to ICE from FEMA's routine operating expenses — could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations." The department did not dispute the authenticity of the documents, however, and Merkley and Maddow pointed out that the money is listed to have been moved from FEMA disaster response and recovery accounts to ICE.
Unbelievable? Yes. Reprehensible? Yes. But it’s true. Look for yourself: pic.twitter.com/O0SxI9p5ho
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) September 12, 2018
Merkley, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he believes the money was transferred around June, the start of what has turned out to be a very active hurricane season. Transferring the funds is legal, he said, but the White House would have to tell Congress — and with an amount this big, it would also probably have to notify Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) or the chairman of the homeland security subcommittee. You can learn more in his interview with Maddow below. Peter Weber
Subtropical Storm Alberto is expected to make landfall on Monday afternoon near Pensacola, Florida, ABC News reported. The storm forced the governors of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi to declare states of emergency on Sunday, as heavy rains and high winds buffeted the southeastern corner of the country.
More than 13,000 Florida homes and businesses lost power on Monday due to the intense weather, and Florida's Franklin County issued mandatory evacuations for anyone living along the shore "in mobile homes and recreational vehicle parks," The Weather Channel reported. In the adjacent Taylor County, there were voluntary evacuations for those living in coastal regions as well as low-lying areas that are more prone to flooding.
Alberto is four days ahead of the official start of the hurricane season on June 1. After making landfall, the subtropical storm is expected to weaken as it heads north, pushing heavy rains into Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Alabama by Tuesday. Even after the storm clears, waters along the Gulf Coast are expected to be rough, posing a risk for beachgoers.
Severe storms hit Alabama on Monday night, causing major damage and leaving debris that trapped several people as winds shredded buildings and cut off power lines.
Tornadoes swirled and hail pelted the region, slamming northern Alabama and bringing strong winds and stormy weather to parts of Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina.
"There has been significant damage tonight in parts of Alabama," Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said in a statement. That damage caused at least one person to be injured in Jacksonville, a city northeast of Montgomery, CNN reports, where winds tore apart homes and roofs. Fire department crews were deployed to search for people trapped by debris, and several areas implemented curfews to keep people sheltered until the worst of the storms had passed.
Baseball-sized hail came down in some parts of Alabama, causing significant damage to cars and buildings:
— Suzanne Newman King (@suzanne_RD) March 20, 2018
The Gulf Coast might be hit with another hurricane — perhaps as soon as this weekend. The National Hurricane Center on Wednesday identified Tropical Depression 16 as a storm that is "forecast to strengthen and bring tropical storm conditions" immediately, and then expected to "continue strengthening over the Gulf of Mexico, and could affect portions of the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane."
The storm, which will be called Nate when it fully forms, is projected to hit the edge of Central America as a tropical storm this week. The NHC then predicts Nate will pick up force across the Gulf of Mexico and hit the Florida panhandle and surrounding states as a hurricane this weekend, though it did caution that it is "too early to specify the timing or magnitude of these impacts." Kathryn Krawczyk
Now considered a "post-tropical cyclone," the storm drenching the Atlantic seaboard throughout Labor Day weekend is expected to leave New York City and surrounding coastal areas comparatively unscathed. Instead, Hermine wll veer east, hitting Long Island, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
Winds of up to 50 mph will develop in Nantucket and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and tides could surge by as much as 5 feet from Chincoteague Island, Virginia, up through New Jersey. "This storm is not done yet," said meteorologist Ari Sarsalari of The Weather Channel. "It's going to get worse over the next couple of days."
Hermine has killed two people since making landfall in Florida on Friday, and scientists suggest the level of flooding it has produced is influenced by climate change. "We are already experiencing more and more flooding due to climate change in every storm," argues geosciences professor Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University. "And it's only the beginning." Bonnie Kristian
Two million people throughout the South face the threat of "devastating flooding" after a weekend of violent storms and tornados, NBC News reports. Louisiana, Missouri, and Tennessee all have issued flash-flood warnings with regions of Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas also threatened. Throughout Sunday and overnight, 12 tornadoes or possible tornadoes were reported in Arkansas.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 14, 2016
On Sunday, President Obama declared the flooding in Louisiana a major disaster; rising rivers along the Louisiana-Texas border required 3,300 residents to be evacuated.
By 11 p.m. Sunday, emergency responders had conducted 60 water rescues. Six people have died since the storms began. Jeva Lange
At least 11 people died as tornadoes struck the Dallas area Saturday night, ABC News reports. Five of the deaths occurred when one tornado pushed cars off of an overpass into the interstate traffic below, officials said.
— Brian New (@BrianNewCBS) December 27, 2015
About 50,000 people were without power after as many 11 tornadoes swept the region, The New York Times reports. In all, more than 20 people have died this week as storms ravage the South.
Update, 8:48 a.m.: This story has been updated to reflect the current death toll in the Dallas area. Julie Kliegman
Parts of Texas have seen up to 20 inches of rain so far as two storm systems continue to move through the state Sunday, CNN reports. The remnants of tropical depression Patricia, which was once a Category 5 hurricane, contributed to flash flooding in southeastern Texas.
There are reportedly no confirmed deaths from the flooding so far, but one man is considered missing, motorists were stranded, and a freight train derailed, Reuters reports. About 100 flights at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport were cancelled Saturday.
Although Texas has experienced severe drought for much of the year, this is the second time since May the state has seen extreme rainfall. Julie Kliegman