Nightly News | August 30, 2011
>>> if you've been watching we've already experienced more natural disasters this year than the average year and it's still august. and now the agency that helps in disasters is, as you can imagine, short of funds. that's forcing tough choices. our report on this aspect of all the flooding from washington tonight, and nbc's tom costello.
>> reporter: the latest estimates for rebuilding from irene, already $7 billion. as natural disasters go, 2011 is shaping up to be a bad year. winter snow storms, springtime floods, catastrophic tornados in missouri and alabama, wildfires in arizona and texas and now, irene's multistate disaster. so far. 66 major national disasters. the mayor of duck, north carolina today.
>> the more we can access fema funds the easier if make our lives.
>> reporter: the trouble is, fema's disaster relief fund is low on cash. less than $800 million left and the shortfall could climb to $5 billion. so to pay for immediate emergencies, fema is freezing new requests from state and local governments to rebuild from past disasters. joplin, tuscaloosa and even, hurricane katrina .
>> we're not stopping individual assistance or projects under way from earlier disasters to pay for this disaster.
>> reporter: new projects are postponed until congress provides the money. the republican-controlled house already voted to give fema an extra billion dollars this fiscal year but that's tied to a billion in budget cuts, senate democrats haven't acted. house majority leader, eric cantor on fox news.
>> we're going to find the money but we need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to continue to do so.
>> reporter: in the last week, kantor's own state of virginia has been hit hard by an earthquake and a hurricane. the question is which government programs might have to the sacrifice to pay for disasters this year and next. tom costello, nbc news, washington.