VERIFY: If FEMA is running out of money, will Florida get hurricane help?

Headlines about FEMA running out of funding has people asking if it will be able to help Irma victims.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – As Hurricane Irma barrels toward the U.S., right on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator says his agency is prepared to respond despite reports it will soon run out of money.

There a several headlines circling social media declaring "FEMA is nearly out of cash," and "FEMA is running out of money ahead of Hurricane Irma."

In a joint statement issued Wednesday, Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio said "FEMA is scheduled to run out of money by Friday, Sept. 8, just two days before Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Florida."

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More: CHECKLIST: Your hurricane season supply kit

But does that mean help for Florida will be held up if we take a hard hurricane hit?

FEMA administrator Brock Long says the agency is NOT out of money.

"No, we're not. And we’re not going to let money get in the way of saving lives either," Long said Wednesday on 'CBS This Morning.'

"We've all been working together to correctly inform the Congress to act, to pass the supplemental [spending bill]. So Congress knows what they need to do to be able to give us the enduring authority to push forward."

But while not completely out of money yet, the agency is spending at a frantic pace.

Last week, the agency's disaster relief fund had been depleted to roughly $2 billion remaining, Bloomberg first reported. By early this week, another $1 billion had been spent, calculating to a rate of about $9 million per hour, according to Bloomberg.

FEMA is already deploying resources to Florida and other areas ahead of the storm, including activating more than 700 federal personnel and FEMA staff.

That advanced preparation is the biggest explanation for FEMA's rapid fund depletion, according to Rafael Lemaitre, a former FEMA spokesperson under the Obama administration.

“One of the things we’ve learned from previous disasters is that you can always scale back. In other words, when we know something is potentially going to be bad, as we do with Irma, we pre-deploy, go big, go fast," Lemaitre told 10News on Thursday.

"It’s not cheap to pre-deploy and to lean forward, but we know that’s the right thing to do when it comes to mitigating the impact of these storms.”

Among other reforms following Hurricane Katrina, Congress approved a bill allowing FEMA to pre-position supplies and personnel in potential disaster zones at state's requests.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday during a news briefing reiterated that residents should remain calm because, if needed, resources and help will be available.

“I’ve spoken with President Trump multiple times and he has assured me Florida will get all the help from the federal government we need," he said.

In the long-term, lawmakers still must approve more funding for FEMA in addition to the Harvey spending bill currently working its way through Congress.

SOURCES

Brock Long, FEMA administrator

Rafael Lematire, former FEMA spokesman

Gov. Rick Scott

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