Thursday, October 4, 2007
The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office has confirmed that FEMA favored Mississippi over Louisiana after Katrina, concurring with the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general who criticized FEMA for awarding "the vast majority of the available funds (about 71 percent) to one project in one state." Associated Press:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency strayed from good practices when it gave Mississippi the majority of a $400 million pilot program to house Hurricane Katrina victims in cottages rather than travel trailers, according to the Government Accountability Office. The findings by Congress' investigative arm give weight to vehement complaints by Louisiana politicians that the Bush administration and the previous GOP-run Congress unfairly gave Mississippi more help than Louisiana as the two states struggled to recover from Katrina.
After Katrina struck on Aug. 29, 2005, and displaced hundreds of thousands of families, Congress gave FEMA $400 million to come up with new kinds of homes that could be used in future disasters. The program's intent is to replace the cramped travel trailers now used in disasters with more comfortable dwellings.
In December 2006, FEMA awarded Mississippi about $281 million for two projects and Louisiana got $75 million for one project even though Louisiana saw much more extensive damage. Texas and Alabama got the remaining funds, about $17 million each.
The Clarion-Ledger defends the partisan nature of the awards. Not very convincingly, but still.
Perhaps we were more likely to spent it on actual recovery work and not random projects, like our neighbors are alleged to do on occasion? Or is this sour grapes because our Governor may indeed be lacking in many skills, but bringing home the bacon in a convincing manner is a talent he can boast about?
I am not sure this is completely partisan in nature. Mississippi has a model emergency management and response system. People all over the world have studies MS' response to disasters going back to Camille. The fact is, many of the career FEMA and DHS officers know that we will handle and use the resources responsibly. Fair or not, the response by Nagin and Blanco have ruined LA's reputation in emergency response.