Thursday, March 8, 2007

"It's getting better all the time (it can't get no worse)."

Today’s Washington Post has a story by Spencer S. Hsu on the continuing saga of FEMA (which, by now, really ought to be called FUEMA, shouldn’t it?).

Around the time of Katrina, FEMA bought 145,000 mobile homes through no-bid contracts and to the cost of $2.7 billion dollars. And is it just me, or does it seem that the smallest denomination of federal currency is the billion dollar bill?

Now stored in places like airfields in Hope, Arkansas, industrial parks in Cumberland, Maryland, and warehouses in Edison, NJ, FEMA is selling off 40,000 of the trailers for roughly 40 cents on each tax payer dollar.

While FEMA has 8,420 brand new, fully furnished, never-used mobile homes in a cow pasture in Hope, Arkansas, they refuse to provide the people from Desha, Back Gate and Dumas counties with help. This is crazy," said Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.). "If this is the new and improved FEMA, I don't want any part of it."

But FEMA has refused Ross's request to release 150 mobile homes to shelter people in his state who were displaced on Feb. 24 by two tornadoes, because President Bush has not declared the counties a federal disaster area, precluding FEMA's involvement.

And, it gets better still. The wood and glue in the new trailers have released formaldehyde gas at levels that have irritated occupants' eyes and lungs.

And.... Among the tens of thousands of unused units rusting at 13 locations nationwide many are part of a $900 million purchase of 26,300 mobile and modular homes that FEMA later realized could not be used in flood zones, where nearly all storm victims lived.

Though FEMA paid on average $18,620 for each of the trailers and mobile homes, during the past year the agency says it has received an average of only $7,367 for the 2,665 it has sold so far.

Paul McCartney sang “It’s getting better all the time” and John Lennon sang “It can’t get no worse” but George W. Bush said it best, “Brownie’s doin’ a heck of a job.”

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