Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Federal Emergency Mismanagement

At the risk of sounding terribly redundant, once again FEMA's incompetence has emerged in its handling of Hurricane Katrina. The only thing that we may rely on them to do without fail is squander resources and waste taxpayer dollars. It didn't end with letting former director Michael Brown go. The news just seems to get worse.

Today, "More than 9,000 mobile homes and campers meant for the victims of Hurricane Katrina are sitting unused at government staging areas while displaced families continue to live out of tents and shelters." FEMA attributes this to the difficulty in distributing the trailers due to the effects of Katrina. Let's not fall for their attempts to pin this on the effects of a natural disaster; this one is purely manmade.

James McIntyre, spokesman for FEMA, made a few telling remarks paraphrased in today's article.

1) "The mobile homes require more space than the campers, plus permits from local officials, and that takes time." Permits from local officials, last I checked, were not a side effect of Hurricane Katrina.

2) Prior to receiving a camper or trailer, "an inspector must determine if the proposed property is cleared enough for a trailer, and electricity must run to the site." If all that stood in the way of receiving a shelter were a few trees, people who wanted a trailer would be quite happy to clear the property themselves. Of course, they might need a permit for that too ...

3) "Officials at FEMA don't know how many people have signed up for the homes," yet FEMA should have all of this information, since "victims can call a toll-free number, use the Web or go to a relief center to register." If FEMA has taken the responsibility of providing an adequate number of homes and managing all requests for campers and trailers, shouldn't it know how many are needed? How quickly are they processing these requests if they don't even know how many there are?

It is no wonder that the author found no shortage of people still waiting for FEMA to deliver. "Raymond and Andra White of Gulfport, Miss., requested a trailer about a week after the storm and they're still living out of a tent on their property. The agency has yet to send an inspector to determine if their property is suitable."

I have little patience for incompetence, especially when I am paying for it. If we don't get rid of the failed Federal Emergency Management Agency completely, we should at least call it what it is: the Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency.

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