From the Washington Post:
Those trailers the Federal Emergency Management Agency bought to house Hurricane Katrina victims were at the center of the storm again yesterday — and not in a way that’s going to make folks at the beleaguered agency any happier.
FEMA hurriedly bought the 145,000 trailers and mobile homes via no-bid contracts just before and after Katrina hit the coast in August 2005. But the purchase quickly became problematic, with some communities refusing them for a variety of reasons.
FEMA was forced to put trailers on the market, selling them to anyone for 40 cents on the dollar.
Yesterday, however, the emergency agency offered to buy them back, for their original purchase price, because of concerns that the trailers are tainted with formaldehyde. The agency said it is making the offer because of concerns about “possible adverse health effects” associated with the trailers.
[FEMA spokesman James] McIntyre said he does not know the possible cost to the government of the trailer buyback. Last year, however, the agency said an average trailer cost $18,600 and that the government was getting about 40 cents on the dollar for the vehicles it was selling. The spokesman also said it is unclear what will happen to the returned trailers.
Thousands of unused trailers remain in storage at airfields, industrial parks and warehouses.
As the trailer problems grew last year, agency Director R. David Paulison banned any future purchases for emergency shelter.
Former FEMA Director Michael Brown was in Tampa today to address a conference of property restoration businesses and shared his thoughts on Hurricane Katrina, Tampa’s vulnerability to hurricanes, airport security and other topics.
What he would like to have done differently:
Tell the truth about how poorly the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Louisiana and New Orleans were doing in the aftermath of the storm.
“The American public deserved to know how dysfunctional the federal, state and local governments were after Katrina.”
How FEMA changed from 2004 through 2005:
In 2004, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge had a “hands-off” attitude toward FEMA and let Brown operate the agency relatively unfettered.
In 2005, Michael Chertoff was secretary and adopted a “matrixed organization,” meaning people reported to more than one boss, adding delays and layers of bureaucracy to relief work.
“It was like, ‘Who’s on first.’ ”
Also, the FEMA director reported to Chertoff, who reported to the president.
“Before that, every FEMA director reported directly to the president.”
Heckuva job, guys!
(By the way, if you have never seen Trailer Park Boys, you should. It is absolutely hilarious!!!)