When Katrina destroyed the gulf in August of 2005 it was, one of the worst storms in American history. Only the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane in FL and the 1900 Galveston hurricane in TX were deadlier. We're not going to relive the nightmare that was Ray Nagin's inability to call for a mandatory evacuation until hours before the storm hit. Or the hundreds of school buses that sat and flooded rather than be used to help remove those without transportation. The blame for human suffering came down squarely on the shoulders of George Bush. Bush signed 10 billion dollar relief package and sent 7200 troops to help. FEMA was described as a disaster in the disaster. Wasting money on trailers that they allowed to flood. Lack of logistic understanding of where they were lead to too many supplies in one area and not enough in another. And in the confusion more people died. The Democrats said FEMA was underfunded and not prepared to respond to a disaster. Republicans said FEMA would never be able to manage a disaster as well as the leaders of the affected community could manage it. We saw that argument play out again in this years Presidential debates. John King asks;
“FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say, ‘Do it on a case-by-case basis.’ And there are some people who say, ‘You know what, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role.’ How do you deal with something like that?” Mr. Romney responded ““Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.” Then Sandy hit. Sandy is a fraction of the storm Katrina was. over 1800 died in Katrina, we're at a little over 100 in Sandy. The Democrats have had 4 years to build up FEMA to what they've always imagined it could be. And here is it's first test. So how did it do? 17 days after the storm hit we can start grading them.
FEMA bought 400 industrial size generators and moved them in to places they thought they could provide the most power after the storm. 330 of those bought were still sitting there according to the WSJ.
FEMA has since been able to move most of the displaced people in to some sort of temporary housing. However there are thousands still freezing in the dark. There is 18 percent of them without power, and 30% without hot water according to WNYC.
FEMA has blown through millions of dollars on stuff they never used but could have. For example, between 2009-2011 FEMA bought 900 trailers at $25,000 a piece so they could provide housing to people displaced in a storm. They have since sold them all between $3,800 and $7000 a piece. The last 2 were sold the day the storm hit NJ. Many had never been used, and the others had been used but are in perfect condition according to what FEMA said in their June 18th press release concerning an auction they were about to have for 46 of them in Cobleskill NY. As a reporter from nearby Schenectady said I got a brand new one that I'm keeping, but I know another guy who bought one for 7 grand but will double his money on E-bay selling it. Could those 900 trailers in and around NY/NJ be helpful to the thousands of people who are sitting in apartments without power? Why did they buy them for $25,000 and lose between $18,000-$21,000 on each just 2-3 years later? No one knows. It's just another one and a half million dollars in taxpayer money thrown away. It's got 7500 employees and an annual budget of 5.8 billion and they're spread out over 10 offices. It boggles my mind that someone could look at that system and think it works better than allowing the 50 governors to appoint a disaster relief person for their state and they have a staff of a couple of hundred folks. The argument against it seems to be that the states wouldn't prepare on their own. They'd spend the money on other stuff. Like trailers and generators no one ever gets to use?