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June 13, 2008

Bickering Over FEMA Supplies

There are many people that have still not recovered from Hurricane Katrina and many are still living in trailers and without everyday supplies. However a report has been issued that FEMA gave away supplies that could have been sued to help Katrina victims. The supplies was mostly household supplies.

This is an interesting story because if you read enough reports about it, it seems that Louisiana did not take any of the supplies when it was offered to states. On the surface it also seems like FEMA gave the supplies away to random people. The 85 million dollars worth of supplies was on storage shelves even after Hurricane Katrina and was later given away to states that wanted it.

Is this a case of mismanagement on the part of FEMA, or is the mismanagement on the part of the state of Louisiana? Also, there are some law makers in the state of Louisiana that believe that many of the victims of Katrina are still living in FEMA trailers and using supplies because they are not looking for work or places to live. What exactly is going on in Louisiana, and do Katrina victims really still need household products? I would think that at this point those that survived Katrina would be in need of much bigger things like homes.

The supplies that was given away consisted of buckets, mops, brooms, clothing, bedding and utensils. I am not trying to make light of the situation but really, some of those things cost a dollar at the local dollar store. I purchased a bucket, mop, broom and utensils for under five bucks. I shop at the thrift store for clothing and bedding. Surely, a couple of years later, Katrina victims can afford simple items like these.

John Medica, the director of Louisiana’s Federal Property Assistance Agency seems to be on the same page as I am. He says that he did not know that Katrina victims were still in need of these items. I think that what is really happen is that people that were in need of these items before Katrina, such as homeless individuals, are surfacing and they are the ones that need the supplies. So why not recognize the problem for what it is instead of harping on Katrina victims.

Another factor that should be taken into account is the state of Louisiana was not prepared for Hurricane Katrina. Back in 1999 when I went to Louisiana to replant Bald Cypress trees, I was told that if a bad hurricane came through the state, there would be massive damage and many lives lost. What that tells me is that the knowledge of hurricanes the magnitude of Katrina was out there. I know that laying blame is worthless because the hurricane has come and gone and destroyed so much but if you are going to start tossing around blame for FEMA, Louisiana needs to throw itself into the mix of blame as well.

The Federal Emergency Management Association has the responsibility of making sure that the entire nation is taken care of. Katrina victims are just one section of people in the country that have faced tragedy, poverty and adversity.

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