Thursday, February 16, 2006

FEMA – Lets You Sink Then Jacks You Up

Monday, Homeland Security Department Inspector General Richard Skinner testifies in front of a Senate committee:
We determined that FEMA purchased nearly 25,000 manufactured homes at a cost of $857 million, and around 1,300 modular homes at a cost of $40 million. As seen in this aerial photo, almost 11,000 of those manufactured homes are sitting on runways in the open fields in Hope, Arkansas.

Since they were not properly stored -- as you can see from this second picture -- the homes are sinking in the mud and their frames are bending from sitting on trailers with no support.
Tuesday, we learn how FEMA is handling it:
Arkansas Congressman Mike Ross says FEMA is taking extreme measures to fix the problem. "If you can believe this they are delivering something like 44,000 jacks by that cow pasture near the airport to jack up each corner of all 10,777 manufactured homes."


Ross estimates it could cost $6 to $7 million for the trailer jacks alone.
And Wednesday, FEMA responds to the criticism:
"FEMA mobile homes staged in Arkansas are habitable, available and properly maintained. They have not been damaged, and certainly none are being destroyed. Mobile homes are an important part of a comprehensive housing strategy, and are commonly used for temporary housing outside of floodplains," Andrews said in a written statement.

"We had hoped for a better reception in the state of Louisiana, in particular, for mobile home parks to be located in those parishes outside floodplains, but we continue to await the needed authorities to move them in. We expect to use these mobile homes in other open or future disasters," she added.
Translation of FEMA’s written statement:
Yeah, we screwed up. We bought temporary housing that can’t be used in floodplains for people who live in floodplains. Now they are sinking and we need to spend millions to jack them up so they can continue to not be used.

But, you know what? You people in that part of the world should be grateful for whatever you get. We’ve already given you a lot of money. So we’ll just leave those mobile homes right where they are until someone worthy of our resources requests them in writing.
I like how the statement singles out Louisiana “in particular” as a place where FEMA had hoped for a better reception. What did they want, a parade?

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