FEMA STILL AT IT

“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” George W cluelessly said to the head of FEMA in 2005 when that agency was in the midst of its disastrous performance after Hurricane Katrina.

“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” George W cluelessly said to the head of FEMA in 2005 when that agency was in the midst of its disastrous performance after Hurricane Katrina.

Brownie – an incompetent Bush political hack – is now long gone, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues in his spirit to do “a heck of a job.” First, it fumbled and bumbled for months before finally providing house trailers for thousands of devastated families along the Gulf Coast who’d lost their homes.

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Then, it turns out that FEMA’s trailers reek with formaldehyde, a colorless gas that can cause sever allergies, asthma, chronic skin rashes, bleeding, and cancer. Children are especially vulnerable. The agency’s head conceded that “We don’t know what the long term effects are.” Did our “emergency managers” respond with any sense of … well, emergency? No. Instead, they stalled and denied that there was a problem. Then when health complaints kept pouring in from residents, FEMA officials gave this helpful advice: open your windows or use your air conditioners.

When residents demanded that their trailers be checked for the gas, a FEMA attorney warned top officials not to do that, fearing that the agency could be liable if the formaldehyde was harming the people: “Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK,” instructed the lawyer, more concerned about the agency than the families’ health. Finally, after Congress intervened, tests were run on about 500 trailers – and the formaldehyde levels averaged five times higher than normal.

So now FEMA says it will test other trailers, but only if the families request it! Officials plan to test about 200 units per week. Two hundred? There are 38,000 of these trailers. Two hundred a week will take more than three years!

Heck of a job. Brownie would be proud.

“FEMA,” Austin American Statesman, February 24, 2008

“FEMA agrees to test hurricane trailers for formaldehyde,” www.shreveporttimes.com, February 23, 2008

“FEMA Trailers to Be Tested by Request,” ap.google.com, February 23, 2008

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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