Monday, July 07, 2008

FEMA-- Brownie's gone and the President probably still thinks they're doing a Heckuva job.

How do you figure out a way to hide millions in relief supplies from the people who need it, and then give it away to other state agencies instead?

Easy-- you create an obscure office that no one knows about, send them there and then declare that since no one applied for them they are actually not needed.

Then if you have a state government run by good ol' boys (somebody must have tipped them off) they can jump in and claim the loot to plug budget holes in their own agencies.

That's what the Bush administration did with millions of dollars in supplies that never made it to Katrina victims, many of whom are still waiting (I guess it would be a good opportunity to mention that today is July 7, 2008 which makes it officially 1,043 days they have been waiting.)

BILOXI, Mississippi (CNN) -- Prisons in Mississippi got coffee makers, pillowcases and dinnerware -- all intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The state's Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks took more coffee makers, cleaning supplies and other items.

Plastic containers ended up with the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration.

Colleges, volunteer fire departments and other agencies received even more.

But the Mississippi hurricane victims who originally were intended to receive the supplies got nothing, a CNN investigation has found...

Last month, CNN revealed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had stored $85 million worth of household items in warehouses for two years. Instead of giving the supplies to victims of the 2005 hurricane, FEMA declared them surplus and gave them all away to federal agencies and 16 states in February.

The state of Louisiana -- the most hard-hit by the storm -- had not asked for any of the supplies, prompting outrage in the community after the original CNN report.

CNN's investigation showed that Mississippi was one of the 16 states that took the FEMA supplies, but it did not distribute them to Katrina victims.

Jim Marler, director of Mississippi's surplus agency, failed to return repeated phone calls over several months to explain what happened.

Agency spokeswoman Kym Wiggins said, "There may be a need, but we were not notified that there was a great need for this particular property."

That doesn't sit well with most aid groups in Mississippi. "You would have to be living under a rock not to know there is still a need," said Cass Woods, the project coordinator of Coastal Women for Change.

Wiggins said that nonprofit organizations must meet federal guidelines and register with the state and that no such groups helping the needy or homeless were registered with Mississippi's surplus agency.

"There is no specific designation outside of a disaster period that says we have to have sustained properties going to the disaster area," Wiggins said.

CNN interviewed the leaders of eight nonprofits helping Katrina victims at a Biloxi, Mississippi, church used as a staging area for community groups. All said they had no idea these items were available, and most had no idea the surplus agency existed.

Yeah. There are thousands of people who are still waiting for help, and they haven't gotten it.

Ultimately the fact that the state of Mississippi, where the story is focused knew about the goods but chose to give it to other state agencies instead of to the victims it was intended for is something which both the Bush administration and Governor Haley Barbour's office is going to have to answer for. In Louisiana, neither former Governor Kathleen Blanco nor current Governor Bobby Jindahl apparently even bothered to apply for the aid at all.

Like I said above, it is 1,043 days and counting that some people are waiting for assistance.

And Brownie's long gone, so it must be someone else who's doing a Heckuva job.

1 comment:

Eli Blake said...


Looks like they can't even get the numbers right. A story out yesterday says that they overestimated the amount of relief supplies that were being warehoused by over 300%! Don't they at least have somebody actually counting their inventory before they send it out the door?