Wednesday, February 22, 2006

FEMA: Blame Jimmy Carter

Executive order 11988, May 24, 1977:

If an agency has determined to, or proposes to, conduct, support, or allow an action to be located in a floodplain, the agency shall consider alternatives to avoid adverse effects and incompatible development in the floodplains. If the head of the agency finds that the only practicable alternative consistent with the law and with the policy set forth in this Order requires sitting in a floodplain, the agency shall, prior to taking action, (i) design or modify its action in order to minimize potential harm to or within the floodplain, consistent with regulations issued in accord with Section 2(d) of this Order, and (ii) prepare and circulate a notice containing an explanation of why the action is proposed to be located in the floodplain.
Is this why FEMA has “minimized” their actions in New Orleans? We are one big floodplain. And the way I read this executive order, the federal government wants to make it hard to do anything in a floodplain. This includes, apparently, providing adequate housing to hurricane victims:
FEMA says they cannot bring mobile homes into New Orleans because of an executive order signed by President Jimmy Carter that does not allow mobile homes to be placed in flood plains.
But FEMA will let you put a travel trailer in a floodplain. And what’s the difference? (Besides about 560 sq ft.):
Housing coordinator Bill Croft said the state has asked to waive the floodplain restriction, which appears to be based on the notion that a travel trailer could be moved quickly, but a mobile home would be a sitting duck in a storm.
Riiiiiight. If another hurricane hits, FEMA will wait for over a million people to evacuate and then thousands of workers will descend on the area and move tens of thousands of travel trailers out of the floodplains. And they will do all this “quickly.”

Hell, no. The travel trailers would get flooded just like the mobile homes would if they were in a floodplain when a hurricane hit. An easily overturned regulation is imprisoning over 10,000 trailers up there in Arkansas which could be used to house residents of the Gulf Coast, including first responders here in New Orleans who are going to need a place when the cruise ships leave March 1st.

I think we need another executive order, one along the lines of “Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes, to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives.” Bush already said it once. Now he just needs to sign a piece of paper saying it.

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