Hurricane Katrina
News and Analysis


Part 2 of 3

If you haven't been there already, you should start at the Katrina Index Page.

This page includes the following subsections:

The Great Debit Card Giveaway and the rise of the welfare state
Gun seizures, property seizures and other attacks on the Bill of Rights
FEMA:  Audacity, incompetence and political correctness
FEMA trailers, trailer parks and trailer trash
Learning lessons and planning for the future
Congressional investigations and independent analysis





Section 4:
The Great Debit Card Giveaway and the rise of the welfare state


FEMA cuts off hotel funds for storm victims.  Auditors detailed how the federal government squandered millions of dollars in Katrina disaster aid, including handing $2,000 debit cards to people who gave phony Social Security numbers and used the money for such items as a $450 tattoo.

No more money for New Orleans.  The media (if you look hard enough into online sources and local news) is filled with examples.  Hurricane "victims" stuffing money handed out to them by FEMA, the Red Cross, or both into the g-strings of strippers.  These same victims holding up drinks while they're out "clubbing" with that same money.  More "poor people who've lost everything" photographed leaving stores with Louis Vuitton bags and other "necessities" of survival such as jewelry and electronics.

After the hurricanes, it's raining money.  It is one of the secrets of the Beltway:  Washington loves disasters.  With large-scale disasters, government expands, its friends get wealthy and citizens become as docile as kittens.

Republicans have abandoned small government.  Katrina is swamping every goal conservatives have, from limiting government to cutting taxes to reforming entitlement programs.  Katrina spending has already imperiled plans to repeal the death tax, and Congress is already $60 billion into a spending binge.  Handing out $2,000 debit cards was just the beginning.  The conservative Congress has brought back the welfare state.

Who are these Republicans?  Gone is the heady talk from the days of the Republican Revolution in 1994, when whole departments and agencies were to be eliminated.  Today, the corpulent state gobbles up taxpayers' money, and it is Republicans who declare that no "offsets" can be found for the new spending natural disasters will require.

Debit Card Giveaway Goes Awry in Houston.  What was billed as an innovative effort to help victims of Hurricane Katrina get back on their feet brought chaos and confusion Thursday [9/8/2005] as thousands of evacuees jostled for promised federal and private cash assistance.

Lavish tastes of card-carrying lowlifes.  Profiteering ghouls have been using debit cards distributed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — intended to buy essentials for evacuated families — in luxury-goods stores as far away as Atlanta. … "It doesn't say anything on the card other than alcohol, tobacco and firearms cannot be purchased with it," the store employee told me.  "There's nothing legally that prevents us from taking it, unfortunately.  Other than morally, it's wrong."

Update:
Evacuees binge on Cape Cod, Spend fed cash on booze, strippers.  Hurricane Katrina evacuees hastily handed $2,000 in federal relief money last month have been living it up on Cape Cod, blowing cash on booze and strippers, a Herald investigation has found.  Herald reporters witnessed blatant public drinking at a Falmouth strip mall by Katrina victims living at taxpayer expense at Camp Edwards on Otis Air Force Base.  And strippers at Zachary's nightclub in Mashpee, a few miles from the Bourne base, report giving lap dances to several evacuees.

Retailers take a swipe at Katrina card use.  Some stores across the country are refusing Red Cross-provided hurricane-relief debit cards because they do not approve of the goods being bought.  Responses have poured in since this column reported last week that the cards had been used to buy $800 handbags at the Louis Vuitton store in Atlanta.  Retailer Vicki Haniford said she has begun refusing the cards at her store in Illinois.  "[Last] Saturday, I had 14 transactions go through from about six different people totaling a little over $1,000," she E-mailed.  "They purchased jewelry and a TV with a DVD player.  I called the Red Cross and they said unfortunately these people made bad choices when purchasing, but there was nothing they could do.

Oh, yes, the debit card scheme worked so well... now let's give them "free" cell phones, too!  After all, the government is paying for it, so it won't cost anybody anything, right?  So goes the public perception.

FCC proposes free cell phones.  The Federal Communications Commission has proposed distributing cell phones and 300 free minutes of call time to Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Louisiana.  The move came after the state Public Service Commission asked FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to use his influence with the wireless telephone industry to help out the 1 million people evacuated from the parishes around New Orleans.

Evacuees caught in the middle as confusion rules relief effort.  Confusion reigns for hurricane evacuees today after the American Red Cross suddenly moved its financial aid office from Reliant Park to a church offsite, and some evacuees who received financial assistance with debit cards complained they didn't work.

Hurricane of Entitlements.  Lawmakers under pressure to respond in real time inevitably choose the path of least resistance — they simply expand existing governmental programs and approaches.  Indeed, over the last decade Congress has, through a steady stream of emergency-relief measures, created what amounts to yet another entitlement program whereby the federal government acts as insurer of first resort to the victims of floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and terrorist acts.

No Katrina sacrifice.  Sen. Tom Coburn, playing his familiar role of skunk at the Sunday school picnic, is arguing that massive federal spending in the wake of Hurricane Katrina must entail some sacrifice.  By that he meant the pork so dear to his colleagues.  That has evoked an icy response, not only from Congress but from the White House as well.

These are dangerous times for our wallets.  Tim Chapman, who has his ear to the Hill, predicts that the government will end up spending $100 billion in response to Katrina.  That's the equivalent of 5 percent of the annual federal budget.  If you sent 5 percent of your annual budget to a charity for Katrina relief, would you do it without checking up on the charity and finding out exactly how they would spend the money?

FEMA:  $669M Has Been Paid to Victims.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has paid out $669 million nationwide to families affected by Hurricane Katrina, officials announced Saturday [9/10/2005].  Nationwide, FEMA has registered 573,262 families, agency spokesman Ed Conley said.  In the Houston area, 36,823 families have registered and $49.3 million has been paid.  Conley said the family registration figure represents singles and multiple-member households.

Katrina Aftermath Highlights True Political Motives.  For liberals, the scope of the Katrina catastrophe, and the degree to which America is preoccupied with it, represent a golden opportunity to exploit emotions and distort circumstances as a means to maximize the political mileage that might be gained from it.  Such callous behavior, while heartless and absolutely appalling, is also absolutely consistent with standard liberal operating procedure.

Pork-for-Relief Swap:  When Hurricane Katrina wiped out the City of New Orleans, Congress jumped in and did what Congress does best:  Spend money like drunken sailors with no regard for the fiscal consequences. … You'd think a Republican-controlled Congress might show a little fiscal discipline and cut out some "frills" to cover this unexpected major expense.  And you'd be wrong.

Getting a bit carried away?  Keep in mind that $100 billion is one-eighteenth of the federal government's whole operating budget this year.  It is what we have been spending each year on the entire Iraqi war effort.  It is roughly twice as much as America spends each year to operate all its colleges and universities.  It is more than the total passenger revenue of all the major airlines in the United States.  This year.  It is a staggeringly huge amount of money.

GOP lawmakers urge cuts to offset storm-relief costs.  "We just can't throw money at the problem, and if we do throw money at the problem, which seems to my way of thinking some of what we're doing today, we better figure out how we're going to handle the financial difficulties that come from that," said Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican.  He joined Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and leaders of the House conservative caucus in saying that the hurricane offers a chance to cut parts of the federal budget.

Blank check for repairs.  When asked Sept. 16 how much his grand program to rebuild the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina will cost, he said, "It's going to cost whatever it's going to cost."  And, boy, will it ever.  The current estimate of taxpayer money needed to pay for Mr. Bush's grand scheme range from $150 billion to $200 billion.  And that's on top of a $612 billion increase in the federal budget since he took office in 2001.

Stop Louisiana's money grab.  Even the liberal Washington Post noted that Landrieu and Vitter's $250 billion, which would come on top of $62 billion already approved for hurricane relief, would give Louisiana more than $50,000 in federal aid for every man, woman and child in the state.

Senator Kennedy Ignores the Economic Reality of Minimum Wage Increases.  Senator Kennedy claims that his minimum wage increase is meant to help hurricane Katrina victims, many of whom are poor minorities.  He does not mention that only 8 percent of the beneficiaries from his wage increase will be single mothers, and only 4 percent will be single mothers in poverty.

The Katrina experiment:  The common denominator of low-income-housing programs over these last 40 years is that they have been consistent failures.  Yet, despite this indisputable fact, today's social-policy gurus persist in search of the magic government low-income-housing program, rather than appreciating that the problem has been, and is today, government interference in private lives.

A hurricane relief formula.  Because federal tax dollars are not infinite, money spent recovering from Katrina has to compete with all the other programs receiving government funds.  This is why Congress, to avoid further damaging the economy while funding the necessary relief, must prioritize its spending just like the generous American people donating to Katrina relief are:  They need to choose giving aid over spending on less important luxuries.

A disastrous history.  Just as local and state officials have come to see themselves not as leaders but as lobbyists for more federal aid, so many evacuees ask not what they can do for themselves, but what the country can do for them.

Lawmakers face dilemma over Katrina relief.  Congress has already approved two emergency budget packages totaling $62 billion for reconstruction and relief in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. … And some members of Congress have different definitions of what's related to Katrina and what isn't.

More material about Pork Barrel Politics.

Speaking of squandered tax dollars ...
Capitol renovation project costs more than doubled.  Renovations in state Capitol offices used by Gov. Kathleen Blanco staffers jumped in cost by more than 50 percent partly because the state used a private company and expensive walnut trim and granite countertops, according to a published report.

FEMA extends rent vouchers for evacuees.  Hurricane evacuees in [Houston]'s housing-voucher program received a reprieve Friday [1/20/2006] when a federal agency extended the apartment-lease deadline beyond March 1.

...but not indefinitely.
Katrina Evacuees Face Eviction.  More than 4,500 evacuees were expected to check out of their government-paid hotel rooms Tuesday [2/7/2006] as the Federal Emergency Management Agency began cutting off money to pay for their stays.

[Yes, but many of these people were homeless before Katrina hit, and are no worse off than before, except that some of them have been relocated to other states.]

Federal, State Officials Remind Mississippians to be On Guard for Fraud.  People have been charged with criminal violations related to FEMA relief funds in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Some complaints already called in include allegations that applicants are using false names or fictitious addresses; claiming non-existent losses or losses to someone else's property; misusing FEMA grants; receiving duplicate payments from FEMA and insurance companies; and stealing FEMA checks.

No surprise here...
Auditors Find Huge Fraud in FEMA Aid.  Thousands of applicants for federal emergency relief money after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita used duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers or bogus addresses, suggesting that the $2.3 billion program was a victim of extensive fraud, a Congressional auditor will report Monday [2/13/2006].

FEMA wasted millions in Katrina aid.  The two audits found that up to 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received aid under FEMA's emergency cash assistance program — which included the $2,000 debit cards given to evacuees — were based on duplicate or invalid Social Security numbers, or false addresses and names.

FEMA Wants $4.7M Katrina Benefits Repaid.  More than 2,000 Mississippi residents were notified that they must repay millions of dollars in federal Hurricane Katrina benefits that were excessive or, in some cases, fraudulent.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking a total of $4.7 million from 2,044 people, giving them 30 days to repay or set up a payment plan.

Katrina Evacuees Sue to Keep Housing.  About two dozen hurricane evacuees living on a cruise ship south of New Orleans were taking the federal government to court Monday [2/27/2006] in a bid to keep the ship docked and the government paying for it.

Speaking of frivolous lawsuits, I have another page on that topic.

Update:
Judge Lets FEMA Remove 'Cruise Ship' Housing.  A federal judge on Friday [3/3/2006] shot down a lawsuit that sought to keep a cruise ship docked here as temporary housing for hurricane evacuees, saying the question was not a matter for the courts.

Read this:
A Very Late Checkout.  After being flown [to New York City] for free back in September, [Theon] Johnson's been at the Holiday Inn since Super Bowl Sunday.  On April 21, the hotel served Johnson with three notices of occupancy termination, saying that it would begin court proceedings if he wasn't out by May 9.  He wasn't, so it did.  If the court boots him, Johnson could end up in one of the city's homeless shelters.  He's been broke for over a month now.  FEMA sent him $9,000 in housing aid, but he spent it all on booze, cigarettes, some clothes, and food — partying, mostly.  "I spent my money just the way I wanted, and I think [FEMA] should send me some more," he says.

The Editor cries out in frustration ...
Here's an example of a person who will be a freeloader and a sponge for the rest of his life.  If there's a government "No Fly" list at the airport, why isn't there a "No Handouts" list at the homeless shelters?  It would be cheaper to buy this man a one-way ticket to another country.  Or at least to Guam or Puerto Rico or somewhere other than a New York City hotel!

GAO finds mismanagement of hurricane aid.  The government doled out as much as $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, getting hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and even a divorce lawyer, congressional investigators have found.  Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address, and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel all were able to wrongly get taxpayer help, according to evidence that gives a new black eye to the nation's disaster relief agency.

FEMA official casts doubt on GAO study.  [FEMA] said it has identified $16.8 million in improperly awarded disaster relief money and has started efforts to collect the money.  [Conversely,] the GAO said it was 95 percent confident that improper and potentially fraudulent payments were much higher — between $600 million and $1.4 billion.

FEMA to cut back on disaster victim cash to curb fraud.  FEMA is cutting back on the amount of cash it will give to future disaster victims in a nod to the rampant fraud that followed last year's hurricanes.

FEMA's folly:  Of the $6.3 billion that FEMA handed out, as much as $1.4 billion — nearly a quarter of the total — went to crooks and con artists.  According to the Government Accountability Office, FEMA paid millions of dollars to prison inmates, to people who listed cemeteries or post office boxes as their damaged homes, and for property that its own inspectors reported was nonexistent.  Some people collected thousands of dollars in rent assistance even though they were staying in hotels paid for by FEMA.

Katrina collects a bundle.  The flow of federal dollars to the Gulf Coast two years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the region already exceeds what the U.S. spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II.  President Bush and Congress have committed more than $127 billion in resources and tax relief for the region — significantly more than inflation-adjusted $107.6 billion directed to 16 countries in Europe between 1947 and 1951.

The Big Easy's Billion Dollar Boondoggle.  How much money has Uncle Sam spent on New Orleans and the Gulf region since Hurricane Katrina ripped the place apart? ... The grand total is $127 billion (including tax relief). ... Perhaps all this money should've been directly deposited in the bank accounts of the 300,000 people living in New Orleans.  All divvied up, that $127 billion would come to $425,000 per person!

Do you want cheese with that whine?  It has now been two years since Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf states and the whining by the Louisiana politicians continues.  The federal government hasn't done this or that, too many people have not returned to New Orleans, etc. etc.  What about that good old American can do attitude of taking care of ones self?  Life is not fair, but what else is new?  One would think that nothing could ever get done if the federal government is not involved.

Homeless Camp at New Orleans City Hall.  The homeless of New Orleans have left the city's shelters and gutted buildings to set up camp on the mayor's doorstep.  About 250 homeless people have erected pup-tents — the only affordable housing they say they could find since Hurricane Katrina — and created a colony of despair in a grassy plaza outside City Hall.

The Editor says...
Here we have about 250 people who believe that the government owes each of them a house.  Sadly, if they make enough noise, they will probably get what they want at the taxpayers' expense.

Housing changes begin to unravel Katrina victims' lives.  More than two years after Hurricane Katrina transplanted thousands of New Orleanians into Houston, the lives of the most vulnerable — the unemployed and working poor — are starting to unravel.  Once kept afloat on federal rental assistance, these families are losing their benefits and are ending up on Houston's streets, activists and social workers say.

Katrina victims swamp corps with trillions in claims.  Tens of thousands of people whose property was destroyed when Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed New Orleans' protective levees have filed claims demanding the government pay astronomical sums that would be enough money to make multimillionaires of everyone in Louisiana.  The Army Corps of Engineers received 247 claims from residents, businesses and government agencies seeking $1 billion or more, according to the agency.

Katrina Victims Hit Feds With 489,000 Claims, Including One for $3 Quadrillion.  A whopping $3,014,170,389,176,410 is the dollar figure so far sought from some of the largest claims filed against the federal government over damage from the failure of levees and flood walls following the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.

Homeless still feel Katrina's wrath.  One of the most popular gatherings for the homeless is under the Interstate 10 overpass at the corner of Claiborne Avenue and Canal Street in downtown New Orleans.  A handful of camping tents and sleeping bags pre-Katrina soon bloomed into more than 100 tents after the storm, homeless activists and police said.

Bureaucratic turf wars destroyed FEMA from within.  [The] warning came from former FEMA head Michael Brown.  In a Sept. 15, 2003, memo, he wrote that the reorganization being proposed would "fundamentally sever FEMA from its core functions," "shatter agency morale," and "break longstanding, effective and tested relationships with states and first responder stakeholders."  And it did.

VA employees rack up $2.6 billion in credit card charges.  In the past, purchase cards have been improperly used to pay for prostitutes, gambling activity and even breast implants.  After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the GAO estimated that 45 percent of Homeland Security purchase card spending during a six-month period was improper and included iPods, designer rain jackets and beer-making equipment.

FEMA is easy to defraud.  Even if you were nowhere near the paths of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, if you are a U.S. taxpayer, you are a victim.  A government audit released Monday [2/13/2006] shows that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was defrauded of potentially billions of dollars because it made duplicate emergency assistance payments to thousands of people, and potentially thousands of other people took advantage of flaws in FEMA's registration process to obtain more than one payment.  In some egregious cases, single individuals defrauding FEMA received as many as twenty-three $2,000 checks.

NBC 15 confronts Speaker Nancy Pelosi on FEMA spending.  When NBC 15 News first met Gwenester Malone a month ago, she was receiving three catered meals a day, while housekeepers made sure her hotel room stayed clean.  None of it was costing her a dime.  "Since the storm, I haven't had any energy or pep to go get a job," Malone said, "but when push comes to shove, I will."  That shove may not come until March 2009.

Years later...
From Katrina To Sandy, FEMA Rumors and Failures Keep Swirling.  Could it possibly be true that FEMA, the most maligned federal agency after the IRS, asked victims of Hurricane Katrina, Rita, and Wilma to repay millions of dollars in relief funds supposedly transmitted in error?  And did they really ask for compensation from Katrina victims more than five years after their checks were cashed?


Section 5:
Gun seizures, property seizures and other attacks on the Bill of Rights


New Orleans Begins Confiscating Firearms as Water Recedes.  Waters were receding across this flood-beaten city today [9/8/2005] as police officers began confiscating weapons, including legally registered firearms, from civilians in preparation for a mass forced evacuation of the residents still living here.

Gun Rights Group Outraged that New Orleans Officials Confiscated Guns.  "There have been many stories of self-defense, where stranded survivors were able to use firearms to protect what little they had, against the criminal thugs who had been released from the prisons.  To take away their firearms now is simply adding 'insult to injury,'" said Erich Pratt.  "Unfortunately, we have yet to learn the lessons from previous dark episodes in our recent history," Pratt said.  "We need to remember those lessons, such as the riots of Los Angeles more than a decade ago."

Group says New Orleans Gun Seizures Ilegal.  Following low-key inquiries that were met with stony silence and official indifference, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) today [9/12/2005] is calling for a federal investigation into reports of gun seizures from law-abiding New Orleans residents, and is demanding that officials there immediately account for all confiscated firearms.

New Orleans Gun Seizures Allegedly 'Creating More Victims'.  Few people objected when police began gathering firearms they found in abandoned New Orleans homes, to prevent them from falling into the hands of criminals.  But one gun policy expert says confiscating guns from law abiding citizens who remain in the city is increasing the danger posed by criminals.

Louisiana Legislature Moves to Restore Citizens' Guns.  Here is a news item that you may have missed.  Law enforcement officers confiscated firearms from law-abiding citizens in the wake of hurricane Katrina.  The confiscations occurred even for homeowners in wealthy (and dry) neighborhoods, leaving owners defenseless.

New Orleans to Return Seized Guns.  The NRA has negotiated an agreement with New Orleans regarding the firearms seized from lawful owners during and after Hurricane Katrina.  The issue is pending before the federal court in the case NRA v. Mayor Ray Nagin.

Remember New Orleans!  In the days following Hurricane Katrina, Americans watched in horror as law enforcement officers confiscated legally-possessed firearms from New Orleans residents, who were accused of no crimes. … New Orleans was the first city in American history to disarm peaceable American citizens door to door at gunpoint, says NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre, and it must be the last.

Bill would protect evacuees' gun rights.  With little debate, the Senate voted 39-0 Monday [4/10/2006] for a bill that would prohibit police from confiscating firearms of law-abiding citizens in times of emergencies or disasters.

[The Second Amendment is not limited to "times of emergencies or disasters."]

New Orleans police giving back weapons confiscated post-Katrina.  A handful of people showed up Monday [4/17/2006] to try to get back guns confiscated by the New Orleans Police Department after Hurricane Katrina — and not many of those walked away with a weapon.

New Orleans Will Begin Returning Seized Firearms Monday, Says SAF.  More than seven months have passed since New Orleans residents were forcibly and illegally disarmed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and starting Monday, April 17, the City of New Orleans will be returning seized firearms to their rightful owners, thanks to legal action by the Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association.

Senate unanimously OKs gun seizure bill.  Legislation that would prohibit local, parish or state police officers from seizing firearms from law-abiding citizens during a state of emergency sailed out of the [Lousiana] Senate, 36-0, on Monday [5/22/2006] and headed back to the House for final approval of minor changes.

New Orleans Should Have Said Yes to Guns.  The United States has one of the world's lowest "hot" burglary rates — burglaries committed while people are in the building — at 13 percent, compared to the "gun-free" British rate of 59 percent. … Even without a catastrophe like Katrina, it would have been a poor strategy for would-be victims in New Orleans merely to call 911 and wait for help; the average response time of police in New Orleans before the hurricane was eleven minutes.

Ruling Seen As 'Landmark' Victory for New Orleans Gun Owners.  "We're encouraged by this latest ruling," said Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb.  "For almost a year, we've been fighting the city's delay tactics, which included outright lying by city officials [who denied] that any firearms had been seized.  Only when we threatened Mayor Nagin and Superintendent Riley with a motion for contempt did the city miraculously discover that they actually did have more than 1,000 firearms that had been taken from their owners."

The Katrina Gun Grab.  Former New Orleans Police Chief Eddie Compass issued orders to confiscate firearms from all New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, under a flawed state emergency powers law.  Shortly thereafter, the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation sued New Orleans, Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley to stop the illiegal confiscation of firearms.  The NRA and SAF filed suit in federal court and won a preliminary injunction ending all the illegal gun confiscations.

Forcibly Disarming Law-Abiding Americans during Disaster:  It Can Happen to You.  This exact scenario unfolded in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, unbeknownst to most people across the country.  New Orleans and other government officials literally ordered reluctant law enforcement officers to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens at gunpoint.  In other words, at the very moment when Second Amendment rights mattered most, when innocent civilians needed firearms for self-protection, government forcibly confiscated them.

NRA foe Jefferson ordered to surrender his Guns.  When Rep.William Jefferson was arraigned on a boatload of corruption and racketeering charges on Friday, he was ordered to surrender his firearms.  Apparently, while the Louisiana Democrat stores his FBI-marked bribe money in his freezer in Washington, he stockpiles his collection of rifles and shotguns in his home in New Orleans. … You might ask yourself, what does a man who, in 2005, voted against a bill to protect law-abiding gun dealers and manufacturers from litigation blaming them for criminal misuse of their products by others, need with rifles?  Did he own them when he voted against similar law in 2003?

Did someone mention Congressman Jefferson?

Gun Seized After Katrina?  NRA Wants You.  The National Rifle Association has hired private investigators to find hundreds of people whose firearms were seized by city police in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, according to court papers filed this week.  The NRA is trying to locate gun owners for a federal lawsuit that the lobbying group filed against Mayor Ray Nagin and Police Superintendent Warren Riley over the city's seizure of firearms after the Aug. 29, 2005, hurricane.

The Democrats and Gun Control:  [Senator Hillary] Clinton has repeatedly voted for antigun proposals, and co-sponsored many of them.  After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans and St. Tammany police confiscated guns from law-abiding citizens, violating an explicit Louisiana law.  In some cases, the confiscation was carried out with the assistance of federal agents, and was perpetrated via warrantless break-ins into homes.  The next year, the U.S. Senate voted 84-16 for a homeland security appropriations rider stating:  "None of the funds appropriated by this Act shall be used for the seizure of a firearm based on the existence of a declaration or state of emergency."  Mrs. Clinton was one of the 16 who voted "no."

Shame on Nagin.  [New Orleans Mayor Ray] Nagin violated every law-abiding citizen's civil rights, Constitutional rights, and human right of self-defense with the now infamous forced gun confiscations from the good people of New Orleans, whose only defense was their own lawfully owned firearms.  Good for them!  Nagin ordered all law enforcement to concentrate wholly on breaking down doors of homes and taking firearms away from the people, even by force if necessary — and in many documented cases, they did use physical force.  One old woman about 70 reportedly was literally knocked down to the floor of her own kitchen.

Southwest Alabama lawmaker wants to ban cops from seizing guns during emergencies.  Rep. Marc Keahey, D-Grove Hill, said last week he will sponsor a bill in the Legislature to prevent the government from seizing lawfully owned firearms in times of emergency, such as hurricanes. … The bill was inspired by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans police ordered people to surrender their firearms.  More than 1,000 guns were seized, according to the National Rifle Association.

State "Emergency Powers" vs. The Right to Arms.  After Hurricane Katrina, many New Orleans residents legally armed themselves to protect their lives and property from civil disorder.  With no way to call for help, and police unable to respond, honest citizens were able to defend themselves and their neighbors against looters, arsonists and other criminals.  However, just when these people needed guns the most, New Orleans's Police Superintendent ordered the confiscation of firearms, allegedly under a state emergency powers law.  "No one will be able to be armed," he said.  "Guns will be taken.  Only law enforcement will be allowed to have guns."

Related story, years later:
New Hawaii law prevents seizure of legal guns in an emergency.  The law prohibits the seizure of firearms or ammunition when the government invokes emergency powers during a disaster.

The untold story of gun confiscation after Hurricane Katrina.  A great video by the NRA on how guns were confiscated by police officers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Section 6:
FEMA:  audacity, incompetence and political correctness


More information about FEMA can be found here.

Not taking no for an answer, Houston mayor seizes old warehouse.  The owner declined Wednesday [9/7/2005] to lease or rent the building as offices for FEMA, so Mayor Bill White commandeered the building.

Editor's note:
This is a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment, since Houston is hundreds of miles away from the hurricane-damaged area.  More information about FEMA (with some duplication from this page) can be found here.

The latest:
FEMA is using the FOIA to dig itself into a deeper hole.  If there were an award for the least popular federal agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would probably be a near-unanimous choice, thanks to the barrage of negative media it received during the Hurricane Katrina debacle.

Astrodome Radio Station Blocked.  KAMP 95.3 "Evacuation Radio Services", a low-power FM station for Hurricane Katrina evacuees housed at the Astrodome, is still stuck in limbo.  Although the group trying to organize the station has wrangled three 90-day licenses from the FCC, as of Thursday [9/8/2005], they were being stymied by a handful of temporary administrators content to maintain radio silence.

FEMA Strikes Again!  Although the effort was trumpeted in the media as an example of grassroots ingenuity in the face of disaster, local officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency have nixed an attempt by Houston activists to set up a low-power radio station at the Astrodome that would have broadcast Hurricane Katrina relief information for evacuees.

Editor's note:
FEMA's excuses for this action are numerous and each is transparently false.  The micro-power broadcasting issue is all about control.  The government can't afford to allow even one watt of unlicensed broadcasting, because it would open a door that could never be closed again.  The FCC has been fighting this battle for decades.

Clinton's Mythical FEMA.  While making the rounds of the network morning shows, [Senator Hillary Clinton has] been very hard on the Federal Emergency Management Administration and, of course, the Bush Administration.  She went as far as complaining that Bush damaged "Bill's FEMA."  Naturally, the mainstream media are too lazy to investigate her politically-charged exploitation of Katrina to not only revise her hubby's legacy, but also to score brownie points as she eyes a 2008 presidential run.

It's the spending, stupid.  Perhaps you've heard the one about the 700 firefighters from a variety of states who volunteered to do rescue work following Hurricane Katrina?  They sat in a hotel room in Atlanta for days getting sexual harassment training from FEMA officials.  No joke.  Note to Republicans eager to shovel new money at federal agencies:  This is the way government works.

FEMA to the Rescue.  All volunteers, he was told, must complete this class before being sent into the disaster area.  My friend kindly provided me with a copy of the class schedule.  [You won't believe your eyes; political correctness is apparently far more important at FEMA than actual work.]

Dammable pork:  Dr. Jeffrey Guy, a Nashville trauma surgeon, recruited 400 doctors, nurses and first responders to help the people in New Orleans.  Then FEMA gave them something to do:  fill out 60-page applications that demanded photographs and tax forms.

Blame to go around.  A team of Indiana firefighters, volunteering to help rescue victims of Katrina, went to Atlanta, where Federal Emergency Management Agency staffers told them that their job was to hand out fliers and that their first task was to attend a multi-hour course on sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity.  This is, astonishingly, standard operating procedure at FEMA.  And in other parts of the federal government….

FEMA versus Wal-Mart:  Many people who think that government is the answer to our problems do not bother to check out the evidence.  But it can be eye-opening to compare how private businesses responded to hurricane Katrina and how local, state and national governments responded.

Ron Paul on Katrina Response.  Rep. Ron Paul rightfully criticizes how the Federal Government responded to the Gulf Coast disaster.  Furthermore, the Congressman questions the logic of granting FEMA nearly $52 billion when they have already "failed so spectacularly."

FEMA criticized for cruise ship deal.  On Sept. 1, … FEMA pleaded with the U.S. Military Sealift Command:  The government needed 10,000 berths on full-service cruise ships, FEMA said, and it needed the deal done by noon the next day.  The hasty appeal yielded one of the most controversial contracts of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay.

Stumbling Storm-Aid Effort Put Tons of Ice on Trips to Nowhere.  When the definitive story of the confrontation between Hurricane Katrina and the United States government is finally told, one long and tragicomic chapter will have to be reserved for the odyssey of the ice.  Ninety-one thousand tons of ice cubes, that is, intended to cool food, medicine and sweltering victims of the storm.  It would cost taxpayers more than $100 million, and most of it would never be delivered.

FEMA Should Be Shut Down.  What if there was no such thing as FEMA?  I asked myself that question after reading about the Federal Emergency Management Agency's bungled efforts to serve the poor and suffering in the area formerly known as New Orleans. … FEMA's boorish behavior underscores it real purpose, which is always to spend its budget and get good press doing it, because such activities will reflect well on the public sector.

In government we trust.  What lessons should we have learned from last summer's deadly and destructive hurricanes?  The primary lesson is that we shouldn't have much faith in a federal bureaucracy like the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  They amply demonstrated their incompetence, but what's our response?  We'll give them more money and more authority.  That's not smart.

Millions of Katrina aid wasted, review finds.  $438 a night paid for New York hotel rooms.

Audit of FEMA:  Waste, fraud cost millions.  Waste and fraud marked the federal government's assistance programs for Hurricane Katrina victims, with 10,000 mobile homes going unused and scattered cases of evacuees spending emergency money on nude dancing in Houston, tattoos, casino gambling and a diamond engagement ring, according to an audit released Monday [3/6/2006].

FEMA faulted for big hotel bills.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency failed to set cost controls on hotel room rentals for Hurricane Katrina evacuees, an omission that led to "excessive" bills on some rooms, according to a new oversight report.  FEMA was still paying up to $364 a night for some rooms on Dec. 7, more than three months after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast….

FEMA Wasted Millions of Taxpayer Dollars During 2005 Hurricane Recovery Efforts.  In only six months Congress has spent roughly $100 billion on costs associated with the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes, most of which was utilized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as the agency attempted to meet the needs of thousands of individuals affected by these catastrophic events.  However, many of FEMA's efforts were undercut by the extensive waste, fraud and abuse of the taxpayer money intended to assist with response and recovery costs.

FEMA Will Try to Recoup Millions Distributed for Hurricane Relief.  Acknowledging that it wrongly distributed tens of millions of dollars in hurricane relief last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Friday that it would try to recoup aid from thousands of individuals or families who fraudulently or otherwise wrongly collected money.

[Good luck with that.  Sounds like FEMA has overestimated itself again.]

FEMA re-bids $3.6B in hurricane contracts.  The Bush administration on Friday awarded up to $3.6 billion in temporary hurricane-victim housing contracts to small and minority-owned firms, saying it was shifting the money from four large companies that had not competed for the work.

Senate panel recommends abolishing FEMA.  The nation's disaster response agency should be abolished and rebuilt from scratch to avoid a repeat of multiple government failures exposed by hurricane Katrina, a Senate inquiry has concluded.  Crippled by years of poor leadership and inadequate funding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency cannot be fixed, a bipartisan investigation says in recommendations to be released Thursday [4/27/2006].

[Inadequate funding?  Really?  FEMA has a budget of $4.8 billion, and a staff of about 6,000 employees.*]

White House opposes Senate call to dismantle FEMA.  The White House on Thursday [4/27/2006] signaled opposition to a Senate panel's call to dismantle the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the main focus of criticism for the administration's botched response to Hurricane Katrina.

Senate Panel Says FEMA Is Beyond Repair.  Hurricane Katrina turned FEMA into a "symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy" so far beyond repair that it should be scrapped, senators said Thursday [4/28/2006].  They called for creation of a new disaster relief agency as the next storm season looms on the horizon.

[How would that fix anything?]

FEMA Wants $4.7M Katrina Benefits Repaid.  More than 2,000 Mississippi residents were notified that they must repay millions of dollars in federal Hurricane Katrina benefits that were excessive or, in some cases, fraudulent.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking a total of $4.7 million from 2,044 people, giving them 30 days to repay or set up a payment plan.

And then, just when the Senate panel recommended dismantling FEMA ...
FEMA goes high-tech for storm preparedness.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a live video network to allow officials in Washington to assess disasters and has equipped trucks with GPS devices so the agency can see when supplies are delivered to stricken areas, officials said Thursday [5/11/2006].  To better prepare for this year's hurricane season, FEMA has also stockpiled equipment for floods and started a partnership with the Coast Guard to use its boats when responding to some emergencies.

FEMA Proposals:  Much Ado About Nothing.  This month, Congress will likely consider three bills, two in the House and one in the Senate, that would reorganize or move the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  None has much merit.  These proposals would impose costly, time-consuming, and unnecessary organizational changes that would add to the federal bureaucracy and hamper, not strengthen, how the nation responds to disasters.

FEMA extends housing benefits for some 15,000 evacuee families.  "This is a huge victory for the evacuees," said Bob Fleming, who oversees Catholic Charities' assistance program for people displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. … Relieved of the anxiety of worrying about keeping a roof over their heads, the evacuees can use the next five months to find jobs and otherwise stabilize their lives, Fleming said.

[If they need another five months to find jobs, what have they been doing for the last 12 months?]

FEMA Ordered to Resume Katrina Housing Payments.  A federal judge ordered the Bush administration today to immediately resume making housing benefits available to thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina.  U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon said the Federal Emergency Management Agency failed to adequately explain why it ended the 18-month housing assistance program for people who lost their homes in the 2005 storm.

[After 18 months, it's no longer "housing assistance" -- it's just housing.  This country is full of freeloaders who will ride the government gravy train until they are thrown off.  Get Judge Leon on the phone.  I can explain it to him.]

Judge's order reveals FEMA aid shortcomings.  Those still receiving aid were most dependent before Katrina, mostly single mothers on welfare, while the rest are back on their feet, said Ronald D. Utt, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank. … "A lot of people have simply found it easier to stay where they are, which are probably places of greater opportunity than New Orleans."

The Editor says...
Notice that the story drips with political bias:  The question is whether FEMA is dishing out taxpayers' money fast enough, to people who have no intention of paying it back.  On one side of the argument, the article cites "anti-poverty advocates", and on the other side are "Bush administration defenders" at "a conservative think-tank".  As if the conservatives are in favor of poverty.

FEMA Halts Censorship of Louisiana Church's Hurricane Victim Outreach.  Government officials have told a Louisiana church that its members can go back to sharing the gospel after providing free barbecues for residents of several post-Hurricane Katrina trailer communities.  Earlier this year, representatives with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, reportedly told members of Calvary Baton Rouge Church that it could no longer follow the free meals it served to hurricane victims with voluntary gospel messages and Bible studies.

Audit says FEMA is squandering Katrina aid.  The government is squandering tens of millions of dollars in Hurricane Katrina disaster aid, in some cases doling out housing payments to people living rent-free, investigators said Wednesday.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency has recouped less than 1 percent of the $1 billion that investigators contend it squandered on fraudulent assistance, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Read the official GAO report...
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Disaster Relief:  Continued Findings of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse.  FEMA continued to lose tens of millions of dollars through potentially improper and/or fraudulent payments from both hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  These payments include $17 million in rental assistance paid to individuals to whom FEMA had already provided free housing through trailers or apartments.  In one case, FEMA provided free housing to 10 individuals in apartments in Plano, Texas, while at the same time it sent these individuals $46,000 to cover out-of-pocket housing expenses.  In addition, several of these individuals certified to FEMA that they needed rental assistance.

1,300 Katrina fraud probes under way.  More than a year after Hurricane Katrina, there are about 1,300 ongoing investigations of alleged FEMA fraud in the southern district alone, a federal prosecutor said. … So far, 92 individuals have been indicted by the federal government in Mississippi's southern district in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  Of that number, about half have pleaded guilty, and one has gone to trial.

Woman found guilty of fraud.  A Gulfport woman is in custody awaiting a possible 20-year sentence for conviction of FEMA fraud.  Rose Maria Crosby, 48, was found guilty Tuesday on five counts involving a false statement for disaster-relief assistance after Hurricane Katrina.

Katrina evacuees say they need more than extension.  A six-month extension of emergency housing assistance will stave off an immediate catastrophe but will not solve the underlying problems preventing hurricane victims from rebuilding their lives, evacuees and their advocates said Monday [1/22/2007]. … About 25 evacuees gathered Monday at a Stafford apartment development for senior citizens to thank FEMA for the extension while arguing that they need an additional 18 months rather than just six months.

Sounds like they're on the road to Perpetual Victimhood.

FEMA Calls Rebuilding Complete As New Orleans Restored To Former Squalor.  After an unprecedented 18-month cleanup and repair effort supervised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and several state and local government bureaus, Undersecretary for Federal Emergency Management R. David Paulison announced Monday [1/29/2007] that the city of New Orleans has been successfully returned to its pre-Hurricane Katrina state of decay and deterioration.

FEMA wants more than $300 million in hurricane aid returned.  In the neighborhood President Bush visited right after Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. government gave $84.5 million to more than 10,000 households.  But Census figures show fewer than 8,000 homes existed there at the time.  Now the government wants back a lot of the money it disbursed across the region.

Feds go after Katrina fraud cases.  In her application for federal emergency help, Tina Marie Gilmore told officials how she watched hopelessly as her two daughters, ages 5 and 6, were swept through the rushing flood waters after Hurricane Katrina and was so distraught several months later that she couldn't function — to drive a car or even be in the same room with children.  But after mailing her a check for $4,358, the Federal Emergency Management Agency learned that not only did Winston, 34, not live in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, but that she didn't have any children.  Even her last name was a fake.

At long last...
US to cut Katrina hotel payments.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in charge of the relief effort, has paid evacuees some $274 million since hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Almost 54,000 families are still living in hotels and motels in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi.

Katrina Aid Used for Luxury Condos.  With large swaths of the Gulf Coast still in ruins from Hurricane Katrina, rich federal tax breaks designed to spur rebuilding are flowing hundreds of miles inland to investors who are buying up luxury condos near the University of Alabama's football stadium.

FEMA apologizes for fake "reporters".  The main U.S. disaster-response agency apologized on Friday [10/26/2007] for having its employees pose as reporters in a news briefing on California's wildfires that no journalists attended.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency, still struggling to restore its image after the bungled handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, issued the apology after The Washington Post published details of the Tuesday briefing.

The Editor says...
Apologies all around, as usual.  Big deal.  The way to prevent this from happening again is to fire the people who made this decision.  Will that happen?  Not likely.

Nothing to see here.  Ever wonder how that audit of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's security controls on its classified laptop computers turned out?  Well, according to the "declassified" report released today [12/26/2007] by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general, we get to keep wondering.

FEMA Wins Appeal in Katrina Rental Aid.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency can end housing subsidies for many victims of Hurricane Katrina, an appeals court ruled.  Many storm victims now receive help through a different federal agency, and it wasn't clear how many people would be affected by the ruling.  The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Friday that storm victims who apply for rental assistance aren't legally entitled to a "continuing stream of payments."

Who did the most to help victims of Hurricane Katrina?  The results are recounted in a new paper on the disaster written by Steven Horwitz, an Austrian-school economist at St. Lawrence University in New York.  While [FEMA] fumbled about, doing almost as much to prevent essential supplies from reaching Louisiana and Mississippi as it could to facilitate it, Wal-Mart managers performed feats of heroism.

Fraudulent FEMA aid may exceed $1 billion.  After Hurricane Katrina last August, the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid out fraudulent disaster assistance which may have exceeded $1 billion, according to Government Accountability Office testimony before Congress Wednesday [6/14/2006].

FEMA still handing out Katrina cash inappropriately.  A Congressional investigation found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency paid out an estimated $1 billion inappropriately after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but to date has recovered less than one percent of that amount.  Government Accountability Office investigators testified at a hearing Wednesday [12/6/2006] that in addition, FEMA is still sending out tens of millions of dollars in inappropriate aid payments through its Individuals and Households Program, which provides rental assistance to people displaced due to natural disasters.

Paulison:  Increase the size of FEMA.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency is still far short of its recruitment goals, but its director, R. David Paulison, says he wants to expand the agency's staffing even beyond those goals.  "It's been a slower process than I thought.  It's more difficult to get people on board in the federal government than at the local level, but we are doing it and we are going to fill this agency up," Paulison said on Sunday's Meet the Press [8/27/2006].

After tornado, FEMA disarms town, turns away help.  On Friday, May 4 [2006], an F5 tornado wiped the town of Greensburg, Kan., almost entirely off the map.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with the National Guard and local police from all over Kansas, then systematically kept out relief workers while they went house to house disarming the residents.

Obama hates white people and wants them to die.  With nearly 1.5 million people in the mid-west without power during a cold snap, what other possible reason is there that this new "competent" administration and FEMA would be failing so spectacularly in helping in this natural disaster? ... Of course, I am just aping what lefty blogs were saying about Bush less than 24 hours after Katrina's hurricane winds stopped blowing. ... Isn't it interesting that now that we have a Democrat as president that all of a sudden, disaster relief is a state and local matter and the federal government should stand aside and allow them to do their jobs?

Kentucky:  No Power, No FEMA.  When a million people in flyover country are suffering, and 42 people have died, we don't hear much about it.  If this was New York, Washington, Boston, [New Orleans,] (or if the president had an R after his name) you'd see non-stop reports, and the press would be roundly criticizing FEMA's absence, and the White House's disregard.  Right?

Louisiana Sen. Landrieu Demands FEMA Resignation.  U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu called for the resignation Thursday of Doug Whitmer, FEMA chief of staff of the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office in New Orleans, following a CBS News investigation that detailed cronyism, sexual harassment and racial discrimination in their New Orleans office.

If there's no public outcry...
FEMA Considers Placing Florida Storm Victims in Foreclosed Homes.  The federal government is exploring how to put Florida hurricane evacuees in foreclosed homes if a Katrina-like storm devastates the region and shelters, hotels and other housing options are full.  Officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday that it is an effort to find some benefit in the foreclosure crisis and keep people close to their homes and communities instead of scattering them around the country, which happened when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other parts of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi almost four years ago.

The Editor says...
If the perpetual victims won't vacate a FEMA trailer without a fight, they surely won't let go of a full-size house.

Ex-FEMA worker, cousin charged with Katrina fraud.  A former Federal Emergency Management Agency employee and her cousin have been charged with allegedly stealing more than $721,000 in Hurricane Katrina money that was meant for storm victims.

A Weather Newsgasm.  [Scroll down]  In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) became an acronym for incompetence. ... Americans have been taught that the federal government will always come to their rescue and it rarely does with any efficiency and usually with a great waste of money and resources.


Section 6A:
FEMA trailers, trailer parks and trailer trash


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some of the most shameless freeloaders moved in to FEMA trailers, and then proceeded to complain about the conditions in the trailers and the high-crime trailer parks that developed.  Some stayed in the trailers long after they had worn out their welcome.  Many of the ingrates later sued the government, claiming injury due to formaldehyde fumes.

Trailer cash.  If FEMA could distribute the fortune spent on trailers directly to those in need of housing, the recipients might find a much nicer place to live, and even have money left over for home repairs. … Those displaced by Hurricane Katrina and seeking a temporary trailer don't get to kick the tires or discuss financing plans, but a look at the ultimate sticker price might make them wish they could:  $59,800.

FEMA trailer dwellers seek toxin tests.  A group of hurricane victims wants a federal judge to order air quality tests in their government-issued trailers after the Federal Emergency Management Agency postponed its plans to check for hazardous fumes.  Federal scientists were scheduled to start testing for levels of formaldehyde in Mississippi trailers Nov. 2, but FEMA said it needed more time to prepare.

Here's a real shocker...
Some receiving FEMA assistance not willing to help themselves.  What are people who receive FEMA assistance doing to help themselves?  That's the question NBC 15's Andrea Ramey asked those who have been staying for free in hotel rooms after they moved out of FEMA supplied travel trailers.  What she found out is there are some who are doing very little.  The scorching heat puts many at the Quality Inn poolside, but for Gwenester Malone, she chooses to beat the heat by setting her thermostat to sixty degrees.  Malone's room for the past three months, along with three meals daily, have all been paid for by taxpayers.

Subsidy offered to get residents out of trailers.  Scores of St. Tammany Parish residents still living in FEMA trailers were told by federal officials this week that a pilot rent subsidy program is available for them to move into homes and apartments.  But those residents, at meetings in Slidell and Folsom, were also told that they may have to move out of the area due to a local shortage of rental housing units.

Post-Katrina trailer residents fearful as eviction day looms.  One has to wonder:  HOW LONG do these perpetual victims expect to live in taxpayer-owned trailers at no cost?

Homeland Security official:  Purchase of mobile homes a waste.  The inspector general for the Homeland Security Department said Friday [4/21/2006] that U.S. taxpayers could be stuck with a maintenance bill of nearly $47 million a year for thousands of mobile homes that sit parked at sites around the country, never having reached the Gulf Coast to provide temporary housing for survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

FEMA trailer inquiry broadens.  The inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to look into a host of questions U.S. senators have raised about the controversial rebidding of FEMA trailer contracts along the devastated Gulf Coast, according to documents.  Details were not available about the inspector general's review, which centers on 36 contracts of up to $100 million each to maintain and ultimately deactivate the trailers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas.

FEMA Changing Locks on Trailers.  FEMA will replace locks on as many as 118,000 trailers used by Gulf Coast hurricane victims after discovering the same key could open many of the mobile homes.  One locksmith cut only 50 different kinds of keys for the trailers sold to FEMA, officials said Monday [8/14/2006].  That means, in an example of a worst-case scenario, one key could be used to unlock up to 10 mobile homes in a park of 500 trailers.

New Orleans Police Say Post-Katrina 'Trailer Towns' Have Turned Into Crime Hubs.  The trailers set up to house thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina have turned into hot spots for drug dealers, prostitutes and even murderers, law enforcement officials said Tuesday [1/9/2007].  People continue to live in the trailers as they wait for repairs or rebuilding of their homes.  But police say criminals can live there at the fringes of society and go unchecked by authorities.

FEMA trailers being returned in poor shape .  Granted that the travel trailers FEMA has supplied to persons needing a place to live are the best in the world, but many being sent back from Bogalusa are said to have been "wrecked" by those who lived in them.  Even now, you can drive down some streets and see trailers with windows hanging loose, screens flapping and doors off the hinges — just like the traditional houses they are sitting next to.

Landrieu:  Make FEMA turn trailer park info to law enforcement.  US Senator Mary Landrieu said today that the government should make FEMA turn over records of residents of its trailers and trailer parks to New Orleans police and other agencies investigating crime in the area.  The proposal is part of a 10-point plan she announced in Washington for fighting crime in New Orleans.  Nine killings in the first eight days of the new year are threatening its the city's biggest business: tourism and conventions, and the surrounding area.

Post-Katrina trailer towns turn into crime hot spots, police say.  The trailers set up to house thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina have turned into hot spots for drug dealers, prostitutes and even murderers, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.  People continue to live in the trailers as they wait for repairs or rebuilding of their homes.  But police say criminals can live there at the fringes of society and go unchecked by authorities.

Over 31K still in FEMA trailers.  More than 200 [trailers] are still in use in Forrest County alone — and like thousands of households along the Gulf Coast, Pine Belt families are facing a looming Feb. 28 deadline to get out of their trailers.  "FEMA is authorized to provide disaster assistance, including travel trailers, 18 months following the presidential disaster declaration," which began the day Katrina struck, FEMA spokesman Eugene Brezany explained.  [Dorothy] Smith said making such a deadline would be impossible for her.  "I'm just now getting comfortable in here," she said.

Others are not so comfortable...
Katrina Victims Feel Trapped by Trailers.  It was bad enough when Hurricane Katrina chased Carrie Lewis out of her assisted-living home in New Orleans.  Now she fears the rest of her life may be spent in the isolation of a federally sponsored trailer park.

FEMA to extend housing aid storm victims.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency intends to extend by at least six months the transitional housing assistance program for Gulf Coast residents displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  The program was scheduled to expire next month, potentially displacing more than 100,000 households from FEMA-funded trailers, mobile homes and rental units, according to the agency.

Evacuee camp kids worry schools chief.  The leader of Louisiana's largest school system says she believes that up to 200 children in the state's biggest hurricane evacuee camp are not registered in local schools.  And she says the U.S. government — citing privacy laws — is doing little to help officials identify the youths.  East Baton Rouge Parish School Superintendent Charlotte Placide says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has refused to give school officials direct access to information about youths in Renaissance Village, a trailer park for families where 1,200-2,000 people live.

Cities try to shut FEMA trailer parks.  Communities along the Gulf Coast are moving to banish the government-issued trailers that house tens of thousands of people whose homes were destroyed by the devastating hurricanes in 2005.  Those cities and parishes are shutting down impromptu trailer parks set up after the disaster, telling homeowners they either must show progress rebuilding or get rid of the emblematic white travel trailers dotted across front yards from Alabama to Texas.

[One] Key opens many FEMA trailers.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday [8/14/2008] that it would replace locks on request for residents of travel trailers issued to evacuees of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year after finding that the same key could open many trailers.

Waste in FEMA trailer maintenace contracts:  The Federal Emergency Management Agency wasted billions of dollars by awarding contracts for services to maintain and remove emergency trailers for people displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to politically well-connected and financially risky companies, according to an inspector general's report released Monday [4/23/2007]. … The report, requested by Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) found that FEMA awarded contracts to companies without determining whether the companies would be able to complete the work and accepted unrealistically low prices which then later ballooned to almost ten times the original ceiling.

Three and a half years later, people are still living in "temporary" housing.
FEMA on board with housing plan for Katrina victims.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency is supporting an Alabama state agency's efforts to let a handful of Hurricane Katrina victims remain in rent-free travel trailers and mobile homes past a May 1 deadline, a spokesman has confirmed.  Under a 2006 policy, FEMA can donate such temporary housing stock to states, local governments and voluntary organizations to help disaster victims.

Drag your feet long enough and you will be rewarded.
FEMA Offers Katrina Survivors Federal Trailers for $1.  The federal government is offering 3,400 survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita who have not found permanent housing a chance to buy the temporary federal trailers they live in now for as little as one dollar.

Katrina Victims Will Not Have to Vacate Trailers.  Hurricane Katrina victims around the Gulf Coast who were told to vacate their temporary trailers by the end of May will instead be allowed to buy them for $5 or less, White House officials announced on Wednesday [6/3/2009].

No great surprise...
Drugs, Weapons Found in Bridge City FEMA Trailer.  An Orange County man is in jail after Sheriff's Deputies say they found narcotics and weapons inside his FEMA trailer.

New Orleans moves to get rid of last FEMA trailers.  The era of the FEMA trailer — a symbol of the prolonged rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina — might be drawing to a close in New Orleans.

Years later, Katrina freeloaders find a way to get paid for the privilege of living in a government trailer.
Thousands housed in trailers after Katrina may get payments.  More than 20 mobile home manufacturers have agreed to pay $14.8 million to thousands of U.S. hurricane victims who said they were harmed by formaldehyde in the trailers.


Section 7:
Learning lessons and planning for the future


Spending billions to rebuild and repair New Orleans (or Florida) after a hurricane would be understandable if we knew that there would never be another hurricane.  But exactly the reverse is true:  There will certainly be more hurricanes next year (if not sooner), and the people who choose to live on the coast should take that risk on their own, without the assurance that Uncle Sam will always be there to get everybody back on their feet.  In other words, move inland and take responsibility for your own expenses!

Excellent summary:
Disastrous politics.  On a good day, New Orleans continuously pumps water out of the alluvial bowl created by its levees, though building structures there continue to sink.  In the event of a category four or five hurricane, however, 80 percent of the city would be swamped, and every politician from the city's mayor to the state's governor knew it.  But the Big Easy is a party town — a gambling destination — and the city's leadership wagered the city against odds of a big hurricane.

New Orleans repeating deadly levee mistakes.  Signs are emerging that history is repeating itself in the Big Easy, still healing from Katrina:  People have forgotten a lesson from four decades ago and believe once again that the federal government is constructing a levee system they can prosper behind.

Money won't fix New Orleans.  Although Mississippi appears to have successfully put the storm behind it, Louisiana is demanding more help for New Orleans, after having already wasted more than $100 billion of our taxes by inept and corrupt mismanagement of the money.  It has been estimated that such an unimaginable amount would be enough to have replaced each damaged home and business, while putting two new cars in every adjacent driveway.

Exposing the real climate 'deniers'.  For example, take all their nonsense about people dying in New Orleans because of global warming.  People died in New Orleans because it was stupid to build a major city below sea level so close to the warm waters of the Gulf, in a part of the world notorious for fierce hurricanes, long before anyone had ever heard of Al Gore or Katrina.  It was a man-made disaster, but it had nothing to do with global warming.

Three winners, three losers.  One big loser is New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who jumped to erroneous conclusions and cast blame like confetti.  But he wasn't alone among local demagogues, who did Huey Long proud. … Reports of official pilfering of emergency aid bring to life FBI agent Lou Riegel's description of Louisiana public corruption as "epidemic, endemic and entrenched."  A second big loser:  national media that served as megaphones for hysteria and propaganda.

A Geopolitical Prize.  New Orleans is not optional for the United States' commercial infrastructure.  It is a terrible place for a city to be located, but exactly the place where a city must exist.  With that as a given, a city will return there because the alternatives are too devastating.

California's New Orleans:  Parts of [Long Beach, California] stand an average three feet below sea level, compared to eight feet for New Orleans.  Yet despite all the talk from the political left that the Bush administration has effectively drowned New Orleans residents, that same political left is working assiduously to leave Long Beach residents exposed.

Safest and Least Safe Places to Be:  Topping their list was Honolulu, Hawaii, which Forbes explains lives up to its reputation as a paradise.

Disaster Preparedness Links.

Compare this to the 1927 flood.  The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 killed 246 people in seven states — Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.  The river breached the levee system in 145 places and flooded 27,000 square miles, leaving some areas under 30 feet of water.

Man-made mistakes increase devastation of "natural" disasters.  The actions that humans take contribute to the damage caused by extreme weather, say observers.  For example:  People continue to live in mobile homes, although tornadoes turn them into matchsticks and one-third of all deaths from tornadoes occur among people living in mobile homes.

President Bush … the Fall Guy.  Sooner or later people need to realize if they keep building homes in high risk areas, they are not putting too much value on their lives or the lives of their families.  Yes, hurricanes and tornadoes hit urban and rural areas as well, but not on the same level and magnitude as coastal areas. … The damage left behind in New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina is astronomical, and it will take billions of dollars to rebuild the city.  But how much sense does it make — rebuilding a city that will always be vulnerable to suffering the same type of destruction?

Victims.  The government is still subtly, slowly and surely destroying the human spirit, creating a dependency that Katrina has so clearly and powerfully revealed.

New Orleans:  The Nanny State's Bitter Fruit.  Two days. … This was all the time it took for the fabric of civilization to unravel in New Orleans.  Streets which just last week were lined with the fans of Blues clubs and theaters are now patrolled by gangs of what in any other country would be called terrorists looking for their next innocent victim or store front to pillage.

A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State.  The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over four days last week.  It happened over the past four decades.  Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.  The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

Governor faults White House over rebuilding.  Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, flanked by veteran Democratic activists and a union leader, criticized the Bush administration on Saturday [10/29/2005] for allowing hurricane rebuilding contracts to go to out-of-state firms and low-wage workers.

The Editor says:
Governor Blanco seems to be defiantly clinging to Louisiana's traditional way of doing things, which is part of the problem, not the solution.

Chertoff concerned Gulf Coast won't be ready for next storm.  With so much of Louisiana and Mississippi still under reconstruction with partly rebuilt homes and numerous house trailers, "I personally am very concerned," he said.

Perversions Insured.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control program and federal flood insurance subsidize construction in flood-prone areas and encourage high-risk development by shifting the cost of insurance and physical protection against floods from property owners to taxpayers.  The result:  more construction in high risk areas.  It's economics 101 — if you subsidize something you get more of it.

Officials say New Orleans is to be emptied for the next storm.  Everyone in New Orleans must evacuate the low-lying city the next time a hurricane threatens and no shelters will be offered for those who stay, officials said on Tuesday [3/28/2006].

Cost of levees in Plaquemines raising eyebrows.  More than $190,000 per person.  That's how much the Army Corps of Engineers now says it will cost to protect the 14,795 residents of Plaquemines Parish against a flood with a 1 percent chance of occurring in any single year — the government standard for protection against a Katrina-like or stronger hurricane.

FEMA says Louisiana homes must be raised off the ground.  Many homes damaged by flooding during Hurricane Katrina likely will have to be raised one to three feet to qualify for flood insurance, a FEMA official said Wednesday [4/12/2006] as the government released long-awaited new projections on area flooding risks.

Hurricane Katrina Lessons Learned:  Solid Recommendations.  On February 23, 2006, the White House released its after-action report on the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. … The report contains four main elements:  perspectives on how the federal government has responded to previous disasters, a chronology of events from August 29 to September 5, an extensive analysis of the federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and a comprehensive set of recommendations.

69% of poor evacuees are here to stay.  Houston may be hot, unfriendly and frustratingly difficult to navigate, but more than two-thirds of the poorest New Orleans evacuees who fled to the city after Hurricane Katrina plan to stay, a Rice University survey released today shows.

Many Houston Katrina evacuees unemployed.  More than 80 percent of Hurricane Katrina evacuees surveyed in the Houston area are unemployed one year after the storm forced them to flee New Orleans, according to a study released by Rice University on Friday [9/8/2006].  Sixty-six percent of the 362 evacuees surveyed had full- or part-time jobs before Hurricane Katrina battered the U.S. Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, the study said.

Rebuilding in the Big Easy doesn't have to be so hard.  If simply throwing cash around could accomplish anything, New Orleans would be repopulated already.  The federal government has dedicated $7.5 billion simply to help rebuild and repair hurricane-damaged homes.  But the program, called "Road Home," is taking the scenic route.  So far, the Associated Press reports, it's helped only 42 — that's right, 42 — homeowners.

Helping New Orleans face the music.  A year after Hurricane Katrina ran its ruinous course over New Orleans, all America is aware of the botch that state, local and federal government made of rescue and rehabilitation efforts.  As the Wall Street Journal reported recently, "Uncle Sam has spent some five times more on Katrina relief than any other natural disaster in the past 50 years."

The Tragedy of New Orleans.  The post-Katrina spend-fest in Louisiana will be remembered as one of the greatest taxpayer wastes in U.S. history.  First came the FEMA $2,000 debit-cards fiasco intended to pay for necessities that were used for things like flat-panel TVs and tattoos.  Then came the purchase of thousands of mobile homes that cost as much as $400,000 per family housed; the $200 million for renting the Carnival Cruise Ship; millions more in payments that went for season football tickets, luxury vacation resorts, even divorce lawyers.  Federal flood insurance policies surely will encourage many to rebuild in the same flood plains and at the same height as before.

New Orleans Repeats Mistakes as It Rebuilds.  After Katrina, teams of planners recommended that broad swaths of vulnerable neighborhoods be abandoned.  Yet all areas of the city have at least some residents beginning to rebuild.

New Orleans struggles to keep its black character.  On Martin Luther King Day last year, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin famously said his city would 'be chocolate at the end of the day,' a remark meant to encourage African Americans to return after Hurricane Katrina.  At the time, it drew accusations of racial divisiveness and a barrage of jokes. … But a year later, it is no laughing matter.  New Orleans, one of the most culturally distinct African American cities, is struggling to regain its black character.

Insurance for the Next Big One.  There is impeccable logic to the argument that taxpayers should not be made to pay for the risks incurred by people who choose to live along a hurricane-prone coast or atop a major geological fault.  More than half of all Americans, however, live within 50 miles of a coast.

Feds May Buy Out Thousands of Katrina-Ravaged Homes on Mississippi Coast.  The federal government is considering buying out as many as 17,000 homes along the Mississippi coast and remaking the land into a vast hurricane-protection zone, raising anxieties that it could destroy the waterfront lives many residents are struggling to rebuild after Katrina.

California Wildfires:  The Un-Katrina.  San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium filled up with 20,000 evacuees and volunteers.  If the Superdome in New Orleans after Katrina was like a ring in Dante's hell, Qualcomm has been like a street fair — with bountiful food, and even massages, acupuncture and yoga on offer. … Whatever its failings, California's government isn't as addled with corruption and incompetence as Louisiana's, and that has made the difference.

First Responders:  Louisiana's first responders had catastrophic communications problems in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina.  According to National Defense Magazine:  "Police could not talk to firefighters and emergency medical teams.  Helicopter and boat rescuers had to wave signs and follow one another to survivors.  Sometimes, police and other first responders were out of touch with comrades a few blocks away.  National Guard relay runners scurried about with scribbled messages as they did during the Civil War."  A congressional report on preparedness and response to Katrina said much the same thing.

The Big Easy rebuilds, bottom up.  New Orleanians have achieved much of this success by building and rebuilding on their own or with small-scale help, rather than under top-down government decree.  They're showing that thousands of individual planners are better than one master.

Fiscal Conservatism Helped Louisiana Beat Katrina.  Three years ago … many experts predicted Louisiana's economy would never be the same.  That's true, though not the way the experts thought:  It's getting better.  These storms forced us to rethink our aspirations as a state.  We are not just rebuilding the failed institutions of the past — we are rebuilding smarter.

America has Become a Dependent Culture.  When the power goes off for more than a day, the inhabitants of whole cities can become refugees from the elements and have to be saved by big-brother government.  If the help doesn't come fast enough the "refugees" cry foul and complain.  As in the travesty that was New Orleans (Hurricane Katrina), the people stood around helpless, waiting for government to deliver them from a nature-made calamity.  They were incapable of helping themselves.  Several thousand died as a result and billions of tax dollars were squandered to save the rest.  They didn't have the intelligence, training or the where-with-all to escape the big city.  The big city and their helplessness killed them, or made them wards of the government.

Activists Challenge Removal of Trees from Levees.  Environmental activists are threatening to sue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over its policy of removing trees that weaken Seattle-area coastal levees.  The Army Corps believes preserving the structural integrity of levees and minimizing the chances of another Hurricane Katrina-like disaster should take priority over tree populations on levees.  Environmental activists argue the Corps can retain the trees without significant additional risk of levee failure.

Battery-powered TVs useless this storm season.  Without power for 12 days during Hurricane Ike, Houston secretary Donna Clanton relied on her battery-powered TV for news updates, road closings and notices of flooded intersections.  "Actually seeing what was happening made me feel more connected and a little less isolated," Clanton said.

The Editor says...
It's must be amazing to these people that anyone survived before television came along.

You're a Liberal/Progressive if You Believe...  the Bush administration "dropped the ball" with respect to Hurricane Katrina, but the Obama administration was on the BP oil spill "from day one."  It was "all Bush's fault" that then-Governor of Louisiana Katherine Blanco rejected his offer to put troops in New Orleans two days before the hurricane arrived, and that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin told people to evacuate to an ill-equipped Superdome while hundreds of buses that could have transported residents out of the city sat idle.

Government the Villain in Katrina Tragedy.  Five years after Hurricane Katrina, the biggest adversary for the people of Louisiana continues to be government at all levels, local, state and especially, federal.  Hurricane Katrina was a devastating storm, but the destruction was made much greater by the failure of the levees that were built to protect the city.

Katrina demonstrated the danger of big government.  Effective crisis response and disaster management rely on immediate information gathering and situation analysis, clear lines of decision-making, and quick and accurate communication.  The federal government had the capabilities, the resources, and the manpower to respond effectively.  Yet even President George W. Bush at the time expressed frustration over the lack of coordination and blamed "government bureaucracies."  What went wrong?


Section 7a:
Congressional investigations and independent analysis


Hurricane Katrina Timeline.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?  [Scroll down]  The problems with the government response to Katrina had far more to do with actions by Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco, both Democrats, and it is important to say so.  The truth matters, and what our consultant class never seems to understand is that ceding a certain false narrative to liberals in an attempt not to offend the moderates, we feed a narrative always comes back to bite us [...]

Man-Made Disaster.  It is, of course, axiomatic that George W. Bush was to blame for natural disasters that struck during his presidency.  In the case of Hurricane Katrina, it goes without saying that Bush failed on three major fronts:  First, he did not go back decades in time and demand construction of more resistant levies.  Second, he did not force Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to accept his offer of National Guard troops to help bail out New Orleans — when she refused, Bush didn't invoke the Insurrection Act and invade a U.S. state.

Why Didn't 9/11 Prepare Us For Hurricane Katrina?  We don't need a Katrina Commission to tell us that a Katrina was likely to occur and that we should have provided reasonable security to preserve life and property in her wake.  New Orleans' below sea level vulnerability had been recognized for decades by the local and federal authorities responsible for emergency preparedness.  It was well known that the levees would not hold in a serious storm, and they didn't.

Katrina devastation not unrivaled, analysis finds.  If the Great Storm of 1900 had hit Galveston two years ago, it would have inflicted $72 billion in damage, nearly as much as Hurricane Katrina, researchers say.

What happened to the racism in Katrina?  The House released its investigative report on Hurricane Katrina this week, under the title "A Failure of Initiative."  The report is an indictment of government failure at all levels federal, state and local.  In 379 pages, plus 141 appendices, the report documents government failure in major areas that, if handled better, could have reduced the death and damage caused by Katrina.  But it is also important to note what the report does not say.  Nowhere is there any conclusion that the poor response resulted from racism.

Evidence points to man-made disaster.  As investigators and residents have picked through the battered New Orleans levee system's breaches, churned-up soil and bent sheet pile in the 100 days since Hurricane Katrina struck, they have uncovered mounting evidence that human error played a major role in the flood that devastated the city.

Aide Says FEMA Ignored Warnings.  For 16 critical hours, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, including former director Michael D. Brown, dismissed urgent eyewitness accounts by FEMA's only staffer in New Orleans that Hurricane Katrina had broken the city's levee system the morning of Aug. 29 and was causing catastrophic flooding, the staffer told the Senate yesterday [10/20/2005].

One crisis after another yet lesson never learned.  What, after all, should we be walking away from the Katrina tragedy with other than a deep skepticism about government?  Yet we're just hearing more about getting government more involved. … Hundreds of millions of dollars are now being spent daily on Katrina-related contracts and grants and reports of fraud and abuse are already flowing.

Study shows Most Katrina Victims were Elderly.  A majority of people killed by Hurricane Katrina were older residents unable or unwilling to evacuate in the rising floodwaters, according to a study of almost half the bodies recovered in Louisiana.

Fed Memos Put Katrina Body Blame on Blanco.  Bodies of people killed by Hurricane Katrina went uncollected for more than a week in the New Orleans area as the federal government waited for Louisiana's governor to decide what to do with them, according to memos released Thursday [10/27/2005] by a Republican-led House committee.

A Tale of Two Cities.  No two neighboring towns better embody the differences between the two main political philosophies competing in the U.S. today — Houston, Texas which is the embodiment of the Lone Star State's can do spirit of limited government and self-reliance versus New Orleans, Louisiana, aptly nicknamed the "Big Easy" and perhaps the embodiment of welfare state dependence in the South.

Katrina, Mississippi, and New Orleans:  A Comparison of Character.  With so much attention focused on New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a significant fact has been largely overlooked.  As a proud citizen of the Magnolia State I believe it's high time to make a comparison of just how folks from Mississippi dealt with the storm's aftermath compared to those in and around New Orleans.

Rebuilding civil society in New Orleans.  We all know that rebuilding the physical infrastructure of New Orleans will require tremendous resources.  But rebuilding the civil society of the Big Easy will require just as much effort, and has so far gotten almost no attention.  That's because most of our opinion-making elites do not want to see that marriage is the cornerstone of civil society.  And the images of Katrina demonstrate this, if we are willing to see.

Police chief:  Influx of sex offenders 'cause for concern'.  At least 287 sex offenders from Louisiana are in the Houston area due to Hurricane Katrina, Police Chief Harold Hurtt said.  FEMA gave the recent figures to the Houston Police Department but Chief Hurtt admits there could be even more.

[No doubt many others went to Dallas and San Antonio.]

Shifting Blame in the Katrina Tragedy.  Many in the media are turning their eyes toward the federal government … rather than considering the culpability of city and state officials. … [It isn't fair] to dump on the federal officials and avoid those most responsible — local and state officials who failed to do their job as the first responders.

New Orleans Hospital Staff Discussed Mercy Killings.  Soon after Hurricane Katrina struck, the first unconfirmed reports surfaced of "mercy killings" — euthanasia of patients — at New Orleans hospitals.  For months, the Louisiana attorney general has been investigating these charges.

Learning from Wal-Mart:  Anyone who's ever filed a tax return or visited the Department of Motor Vehicles understands that government does two things well:  spend our money and waste our time.  Unfortunately, both traits were on display during the response to Hurricane Katrina.

In New Video, Blanco Says Levees Are Safe.  In the hectic, confused hours after Hurricane Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast, Louisiana's governor hesitantly but mistakenly assured the Bush administration that New Orleans' protective levees were intact, according to new video obtained by The Associated Press showing briefings that day with federal officials.

Media, Democrats Exaggerate Warning of Levee Breaches.  Critics of the Bush administration have promoted video of an Aug. 28, 2005, teleconference between emergency management officials and the president as proof that the White House was warned that levees around New Orleans would likely fail against Hurricane Katrina.  But a closer examination of the recording and transcript shows no mention that the Crescent City's levees would be breached.

Popular Mechanics Takes on Katrina Myths.  Last week's Associated Press release of a video, taken just prior to Hurricane Katrina's arrival in New Orleans last August, has generated a new round of second-guessing and finger pointing regarding who is to blame for the supposedly slow, poor response to this natural disaster.  Falling under the fold was an in-depth cover story on this subject by an unlikely source, Popular Mechanics.

Waste, Fraud and Abuse.  The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general, Richard Skinner, told the Senate that "it is unclear how the decision was made" to spend $900 million on the more than 26,000 homes.  It is clear, however, that almost every penny of that money was wasted, since FEMA's own regulations prohibit the use of mobile homes in flood plains.

The administration is asked to account for Katrina spending.  Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) sent a letter to the administration today [2/24/2006] requesting a detailed account of the money already allocated to the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast region as well as the spending justifications from each agency requesting funds.  His letter comes one week after the White House asked Congress to allocate $92.2 billion in emergency supplemental spending to repair lingering damage from two devastating hurricanes last fall.  Congress has already approved almost $400 billion in emergency spending for the region.

Incomplete system blamed for Katrina crisis.  An incomplete system of defenses built in pieces over 40 years was responsible for the flooding that devastated New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina last year, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Thursday [6/1/2006].

Stating the obvious...
Katrina Victims Blamed for Houston Crime.  A letter to inmate No. 1352951 and a cell phone bill for $76.63, both found in a soggy New Orleans duplex ruined by Hurricane Katrina, led Louisiana bounty hunter James Martin to Texas.  Again.  It marked the seventh time since Katrina that Martin, whose pursuit of bail jumpers often begins with clues salvaged from abandoned New Orleans homes, has followed a trail to Texas.  "I don't think Texas really knows what they got," Martin said.  Katrina sent a lot of bad guys to Texas, as Houston is finding out.

Katrina Crime:  After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast on August 29, Houston took in 150,000 evacuees, the most of any U.S. city.  Unfortunately, the Texas coastal city's hospitality has been met with increased crime rates, say observers.

Millions Wasted on No-Bid Katrina Contracts.  The government awarded 70% of its contracts for Hurricane Katrina work without full competition, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the process, a House study released yesterday [8/24/2006] by Democrats said.

The Editor says...
Please recall that it was the Democrats who insisted that the federal government "do something" within hours of the hurricane hitting New Orleans.  If any group deserves to be blamed for the government wasting money because it acted hastily, it would be the Democratic Party.

Many more links on this page...
The Costs of Katrina:  Rebuilding the Gulf.  At the end of August 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.  As the devastation to the region became clear, Congress quickly passed two emergency appropriations bills (H.R. 3673 and H. Res. 432) totaling $62.3 billion.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) received $60 billion; the Department of Defense received $1.9 billion; and the Army Corps of Engineers received $400 million, all with very few strings attached. ... Federal taxpayers cannot afford to write a blank check to federal bureaucrats and private contractors.  Efficiency and accountability are paramount to ensure that those most effected in the Gulf get the help they need, without bankrupting the Treasury.

The bipartisan Katrina boondoggle:  The Bush administration, like every administration since Jimmy Carter created the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1979, has failed mightily to break the natural disaster-federal disaster cycle.  Next to the systemic breakdown on border security and immigration enforcement, the Hurricane Katrina boondoggle stands as the Republicans' most disgraceful domestic failure.  After years of hawking five-pound fiscal conservative blueprints for downsizing government bureaucracy and reforming federal spending, the GOP blew a monumental opportunity to show liberals how to end disaster socialism.

$1 billion Katrina aid to firms of party cronies.  Some had a history of making political donations to the Republican Party, which was in control of Congress as well as the White House at the time.  Others had ties to Louisiana Democrats, including the office of the state governor, Kathleen Blanco. … After the new Democrat-controlled Congress convenes next month, at least seven committees will be holding hearings into how the $88 billion approved for Katrina relief and reconstruction has, or has not, been spent.

The Editor says...
I would guess that every large and successful company in the United States is headed by wealthy people who have political connections.  This is nothing new, and it is not confined to one political party or another.  But when a huge cleanup job must be done quickly and competently, it is a waste of valuable time to look for the smallest company, the most disadvantaged company, or the contractor with the most favorable skin color.  A cleanup job like this can only be done by a well-established, experienced and efficiently managed company that already has the necessary equipment on hand.  A much more important question is whether hurricane damage should be cleaned up at government expense.  Katrina was not the last hurricane.  If you choose to live near on the Gulf coast, you should assume the risk.

FEMA overhaul delay irks legislators.  Lawmakers are frustrated with the lack of progress on a congressionally mandated overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, designed to ensure that flaws that dogged the response to Hurricane Katrina are fixed.

Flooding risk remains in parts of New Orleans.  After nearly two years of work, the Army Corps of Engineers revealed for the first time Wednesday which New Orleans neighborhoods and blocks were the most vulnerable to flooding, and which were the best protected.  The report shows that large swaths of the city are still likely to be flooded in a major storm.

The latest:
Katrina's impact on crime questioned.  A huge crime wave blamed on thousands of Katrina evacuees in Houston and other Southwest cities never happened, say criminologists who warned public officials and the media to be careful in attributing crime to the former New Orleans residents.


Section 7b:
Hurricanes Gustav and Ike:  The first big post-Katrina storms


Parts of Katrina's history repeated themselves upon the arrival of Hurricane Gustav.  There was no massive flooding, looting, or wildly sensationalized reporting, but there was a difficult evacuation, and now many of the evacuees are demanding better treatment and nicer facilities.

Gustav revives question:  Is New Orleans worth it?.  Since Katrina ripped through New Orleans three years ago, the federal government has devoted at least $133 billion in emergency funds and tax credits for Gulf Coast disaster relief.  Much of it went to rebuilding and better protecting New Orleans from future storms. … Former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., infuriated Louisiana lawmakers when he suggested in 2005 that a lot of New Orleans "could be bulldozed" after Katrina and questioned the wisdom of rebuilding it.

The Editor says...
Can you imagine the uproar I would face if I put up a web page with a title like, "Is New Orleans worth it?"  Yet Newsweek can ask a rhetorical question like that and get away with it.

Gustav's Lessons for New Orleans:  The sad truth is that the Big Easy — while slightly less vulnerable than it was before Katrina — is still extremely vulnerable.  And eventually the region will face the Big One, a storm far larger than Gustav or Katrina.

Has Houston pulled in its welcome mat?  [As Hurricane Gustav approached] one reader commenting on the Chronicle's Web site suggested the headline should have read "Houston area, prepare to bear arms!!!  Here we go again!!"  Someone questioned when Houston would have a hurricane "so we can take all our undesirables to New Orleans and leave them?"  A few readers attempted to remind the others of our humanitarian obligation to help our neighbors.  But the memories, or perhaps more accurately in most cases, the perceptions, of Katrina evacuees' impact on the area are too bitterly fresh.

Some say New Orleans 'jumped the gun' in evacuations.  Millions fled the Gulf Coast in fear of Hurricane Gustav, billed as the apocalyptic "mother of all storms."  It didn't deliver.  Now, with three other storms lining up in the Atlantic, some fear people might not listen next time.

Hurricane Evacuees Arrested In Atlanta Blue Jean Robberies.  Four evacuees from Hurricane Gustav are in jail in Atlanta Friday [9/5/2008], charged with stealing high-priced blue jeans from two Buckhead stores.  Police said the suspects, three men and a woman, all from New Orleans, stole high priced jeans from the Luna boutique on Peachtree Road Thursday afternoon [9/4/2008], walking into the store and grabbing all the jeans they could.

FEMA may cover hotel costs for hurricane evacuees.  Victims of Hurricane Gustav who can't return to their homes over the next month because of storm damage or power outages can have their hotel costs covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials said Thursday [9/4/2008].

New Orleans residents pleased with Gustav evacuation.  "For the first time, it looked like we really had control, like we knew what we were doing," contractor Eddie Cannon said about the orderly departure of more than 250,000 residents, including the largest government-assisted evacuation in the city's history.  "The governor was on point with the information, with the stats, with the police reports," said Cannon, who returned Wednesday.

'Never Again,' Again.  Hurricane Gustav gave the state of Louisiana a test for which it had three years to prepare.  There were thousands of poor, sick, disabled and elderly people who could not get out on their own.  They needed to be rescued with dispatch, and sheltered in safety and dignity.  One simple test.  The state flunked.

The Editor says...
Maybe not... at least this time they didn't put people to death in the nursing homes instead of moving them inland.  So they didn't "flunk" as badly as last time.

The differences between Galveston and New Orleans:  I've been on the ground in Galveston since the Monday after Ike hit.  I have not seen a single citizen of the city begging, demanding and weeping piteously for help from big brother.  The general attitude seems to be welcoming to help from outside, but if it doesn't come, we'll find a way to make it on our own.  Neighbor helps neighbor.  People pitch in.  Things get done.  Hang the government.  The people of Galveston have a special resilience and toughness about them.

The city that isn't coming back.  I'm not sure [Galveston] can survive this time.  Mostly because, post-Katrina, nobody can be moved to come and look.

Perry:  Feds are slighting Texas in Ike aid.  Gov. Rick Perry lashed out Thursday at the federal government's response to Hurricane Ike, saying Texans are suffering as federal agencies penalize the state for sound fiscal management after rewarding its less prudent neighbor to the east.  Perry said he was outraged that Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had told local officials that Texas wouldn't get the same level of reimbursement for debris removal as Louisiana received after Hurricane Katrina because Texas has a budget surplus.

FEMA: Ike grants now over $1 billion.  The Hurricane Ike recovery effort reached a major milestone Tuesday [6/9/2009] when Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants awarded to help the state of Texas and local communities recover from the storm topped $1 billion.  Allocated under FEMA's Public Assistance Grant Program, the funds provide supplemental financial assistance to state, local and tribal governments, as well as certain private nonprofit groups, for Ike-related response and recovery activities.



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