>Around $85 million in household goods never reached Hurricane Katrina victims, who the supplies were for, according to this CNN article. CNN did an investigation, which found that the supplies sat in warehouses for two years before the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave the goods away to federal and state agencies.
FEMA’s acting press secretary James McIntyre said FEMA was spending around $1 million on storing the goods and decided to give them away because another agency wanted to tear the warehouse down.
“Upon review of our assets and our need to continue to store them, we determined that they were excess to FEMA’s needs; therefore, they are being excessed from FEMA’s inventory,” McIntyre wrote in an e-mail.
FEMA said some of the items were donations from companies after Katrina, but most were purchased in the field as “starter kits” for people living in trailers provided by the agency. And even though the stocks were offered to state agencies after FEMA decided to get rid of them, one of the states that passed was Louisiana.
While I’m not surprised at FEMA’s lack of direction and action, I’m surprised by the stockpiling of supplies that could benefit Katrina survivors. Martha Kegel, executive director of Unity of Greater New Orleans, said she told FEMA she was in need of supplies to give to survivors, but FEMA never told Unity or other nonprofits that it had stockpiles of goods.
FEMA confirmed it had kept the merchandise in storage for the past two years
— then gave it away to cities, schools, fire departments and nonprofit agencies
such as food banks. In all, General Services Administration records show FEMA
gave away 121 truckloads of material. McIntyre said that most of the items given
away were not “standard-issue type supplies” that FEMA would have distributed
after other disasters. He said using the GSA, which manages federal property, to
get rid of those stockpiles was “standard process.” Asked if FEMA believed Katrina victims no longer needed the items,
McIntyre wrote: “If the state did not request the supplies, then FEMA would not
Agencies that benefited from FEMA’s giveaway include: the Federal Bureau of Prisons, United States Postal Service, Border Patrol, National Guard, U.S. Marshals Service, the Air Force and Navy and the departments of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, according to CNN.
Once we thought FEMA couldn’t sink any lower, we’ve been proven wrong. FEMA has done nothing to change its public image from the bloated, bureaucratic agency that has nothing but contempt for Hurricane Katrina survivors and to the safety of our country.