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FEMA Is Still FUBAR

Just because FEMA's follies haven't been front and center in the news lately doesn't mean they aren't still screwing the American taxpayer royally...

WASHINGTON (AP) - 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.

Federal investigators even informed Congress that one man apparently used FEMA assistance money for a sex change operation.

Agents from the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, went undercover to expose the ease of receiving disaster expense checks from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The GAO concluded that as much as 16 percent of the billions of dollars in FEMA help to individuals after the two hurricanes was unwarranted.

If your reaction was anything other than, "well, DUH!," then clearly you haven't been paying attention. To FEMA's credit, they didn't what the American public demanded - throw money at the problem - it's just that they did so in a way only a government bureaucracy can, horribly inefficiently.


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Comments (19)

This is the same old story ... (Below threshold)

This is the same old story with FEMA. The same thing happens with every hurricane. It usually takes years to track down all the fraudulent claims, and of course only a fraction of the money is ever recovered. The big difference with Katrina is one of scale.

Congress couldn't restrain itself from throwing billions at the area, and FEMA was one of the prime vehicles for that. But they don't have the personnel to do it right, and the public wouldn't stand for the delays that pre-investigating the emergency claims would entail.

Objectively, much of our domestic disaster relief efforts are inefficient beyond repair, but it has become an expected response now, so that isn't going to change anytime soon.

It should, but it won't.

Of course, to "streamline" ... (Below threshold)

Of course, to "streamline" disaster relief, we could give FEMA about 50 times their current full-time staff so they can swing right into action without having to hire a few thousand folks as the disaster is underway. And then we need to give them another few thousand full-time investigators for checking out claims.

Of course, it won't (as bureaucracies go) be any faster overall, or more efficient, but we can pretend that it's something.

$100 billion allocated for Katrina assistance and rebuilding. $20 billion to individuals and familes out of that. Even using the smaller number, that's around 7% fraud. May be a record low for government work...

What difference did it make... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

What difference did it make? Seventy-five percent of the population of N.O. was on government relief of some kind anyway. FEMA may have actually been cheaper since the local 'welfare workers' weren't involved. The money came from the same pair of pants, just a different pocket. The problem is that is was our pants. LMAO You ain't gonna win when dealing with the left wing criminal and welfare crowd, so get used to it. That's where 40% + of the left wing votes come from.

So what is new? You are sur... (Below threshold)
Michael:

So what is new? You are surprised????? Government bureaucracy is always the same. Democrat, Republican, it doesn't matter. If you think health care can't get any worse, just wait until we have national health care. We will then think these were the good old days. Government can't organize a wienie roast efficiently.

>$100 billion allocated for... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>$100 billion allocated for Katrina assistance and rebuilding.

OH? Can I get a link of that? Or more accurately, can I get a REAL link for that. You'll see plently of talk about money being spent on Katrina but the true figures are FAR FAR lower.

After the Corps flodded the town, (Which they freaking admitted to people, don't blame me) Congress waited almost half a year to approve 4 billion to bring back the levees to their pre-Katrina (ie worthless) levels. Before you go spouting off how much was spent on what, do some homework. (Admittedly it is VERY hard to do) You'll see plenty of news reports saying Congress "approved" soemthing but much of that money never gets "approved" in the long run. -- It's a Congressional shell game.

Then when Congress does spend money mostly FEMA just pisses it away. They spent 1 billion on mobile homes that their own rules said they could not use. - So they sat and rotted in an empty field in Arkansas.

I spend about 8 hours over 3 days trying to figure out how much money was spent on Katrina on what and got almost nowhere.

The mis-information is astounding.

You'll see a link saying Conrgess approved 20 billion but upon further review 1/3 the money was pork for the rest of the country, 1/3 got allocated but never used and 1/3 really got "used" for Katrina. But that 1/3 got pissed away anyway.

Bottomline.... If Congress had really spent 100 million to rebuild from Katrina, the project would be done by now. They haven't and it isn't.

>What difference did it mak... (Below threshold)
Paul:

>What difference did it make? Seventy-five percent of the population of N.O. was on government relief of some kind anyway.

AND your source for this is......


>FEMA may have actually been cheaper since the local 'welfare workers' weren't involved.

What THE FUCK are you talking about? What is a "local welfare worker?"

Did you have a real point to make or just using words at random?

This seems more a PR scam t... (Below threshold)
jim:

This seems more a PR scam than anything else.

Consider:

- Katrina happens,
- Dem Congress + media scream and posture it was not prevented,
- Dem Congress + media scream for fast relief,
- Dem Congress + media scream FEMA "too little - too late",
- Dem Congress + media scream "waste",
- Dem Congress + media scream fraud.

Essentially, any major event or catastrophe is always a PR opportunity of the above sort. In fact, the surest way to assure fraud and abuse is to demand money be thrown at something fast and in great amounts. So, if one party is out of power, all they need to do is demand money be spent fast, criticize any sort of controls as delays, and then wait to criticize waste or fraud later. Consider the coastal RR fiasco/scam that was discovered; it is but one example. Politicos love these great pork troughs, always have.

In essence, opportunistic politicos and media hacks have always seen catastrophes are gifts that keep on giving ... to them.

The difference is now that the web and blogs can help some of this be uncovered and exposed.

Thanks Paul. What you wrot... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

Thanks Paul. What you wrote certainly makes sense when you look at what is happening on the ground. I talked to a patient the other day. She is a school teacher and her husband is a minister. They have a 16 year old daughter. They evacuated to a hotel in Greensburg, MS. Their home in Mandeville was destroyed by falling trees. They went to the Red Cross for assistence and were refused because they had not stayed in a shelter. They were standing outside not knowing what to do and started talking to a lady from a church group. She knew of a church building in TN that was not being used at the moment, so the family went to Tennessee for six weeks. They are now living in a small FEMA travel traler on their property. They finally received a total of $500. She has aged ten years since the last time I saw her. People on this board would call this sweet lady a bloodsucker and and a drain on society. They will NEVER comprehend what we have all been through and all that remains to be done. Abuse did happen. There are a lot of shady people willing to work the system given the opportunity. Just don't forget the good people who are still suffering out of sight of America to this day.

> People on this board woul... (Below threshold)
Paul:

> People on this board would call this sweet lady a bloodsucker and and a drain on society.

No doubt. As much as this PAINS PAINS PAINS me to admit this... Jesse Jackson.. No I can't bring myself to say JJ was right about something.

Let me just say that if you scream racism enough times, you'll get it right at least once per decade.

MANY in white America saw the pictures from the Superdome and decided they didn't want to help "Those stupid niggers" in New Orleans. -- Forget the fact that the majority of the victims were white, so even thier prejudice is misplaced.

Much of the so called "Katrina Fatigue" is just racism.

Well... that and general ignorance of the situation.

Paul, I have com... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

Paul,
I have come to the same conclusion. It is plain racism. And, by the way, I am a white republican and the sweet lady and her husband are white republicans. I really thought the country was past that but the vitriol hurled towards the victims of the flood and the hurricane can only be exlpained that way.

Paul,Then... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Paul,

Then when Congress does spend money mostly FEMA just pisses it away. They spent 1 billion on mobile homes that their own rules said they could not use. - So they sat and rotted in an empty field in Arkansas.

While the money spent on the mobile homes didn't help Katrina victims, it wasn't a complete waste of taxpayers' money, at least not when you consider other research Congress has funded over the years. Empirical data suggests that trailer parks attack tornados, but until now there has been no safe way to test that hypothesis. With hundreds of mobile homes in a single location, we should know in the next few months if there's any factual basis for zoning mobile homes out of locations is tornado alley. (/ sarcasm)

No surprise here... Afterwa... (Below threshold)
Gizmo:

No surprise here... Afterwards local, state, and federal politicians, using the megaphone of the MSM lambasted the Fed response and screamed "Do something!", "Just help!", "Cut the red-tape", "Get these people some funds!", etc. The Feds responded, and anyone that thinks that the abuse wouldn't balloon should be called the "son of a silly person". It's the old time-cost-quality triad. They "crashed" the time side of the equation mid-stream and cost and quality suffered.

I also doubt that the abuse is related disproportionately to any one race, economic class, etc.

Well Mac, as long as we got... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Well Mac, as long as we got some science out the deal...

--

Gizmo,

It's the old time-cost-quality triad. They "crashed" the time side of the equation mid-stream and cost and quality suffered.

You know... You're right and all but really... FEMA would have screwed it just as much if there was no expediency. Trust me.

Paul, as I said above, the ... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Paul, as I said above, the problem is government. I don't remember the exact quote, but I believe it was Ronald Reagan that said if a man shows up at your door and says "Hello, I'm from the government and I am here to help - watch out". That is exactly right. I don't think race is really the problem, just government.

Right now the city of Houst... (Below threshold)
Nahanni:

Right now the city of Houston still has a bout 1/3-1/2 of the population of New Orleans living in it. Most of the evacuees were responsible, left before the storm but ended up having nothing to go back for. Those evacuees have found new jobs, new housing and moved on with their lives as best as possible. These are NOT the people the following is referring to.....

Why is anyone surprised by this?

We all could have told them what the Katrina Kings and Queens who were given the FEMA gift cards were going to spend it on. We also could have told them that these people fully expect the government to hold their hands, wipe their asses and clothe, house and feed them for that is what the Democratic machine in Louisiana did for generations. They will sit there and demand more and more money/benefits because it has worked for them before. Right now in Houston these people, the majority of which could get a job if they had to, are sitting in apartments paid for by FEMA. The government wanted to shut that down but they have filed in court to make it permanent.

The Democratic machine in Louisiana is the most corrupt and irresponsible government in the United States. They live off of graft, bribes, embezzlement. You might as well drive down the road throwing $100 bills out your window then give it to any government entity in Louisiana-at least that way there is a chance that the money might actually get to someone who needs it rather then some politicians bank account. If this "recovery" is allowed to have any involvement from Louisiana state officials nothing will ever get done.

It is time to cut our losses...

If it were up to me I would cut them ALL off from any kind of federal funding. It is money wasted. The Old River project along with the levees should be dismantled, too. For too long we have ruined the delta by forcing the river to go to New Orleans. New Orleans is not worth it IMHO. Sorry, but that is the truth.

I’m living in a small... (Below threshold)
Daniel Morris:

I’m living in a small FEMA trailer on a piece of land I bought for that purpose. I can’t go home. Like everyone in my neighborhood, Hurricane Katrina destroyed everything I didn’t wear or carry away with me. And reading about some of the pork here mentioned, and trying to rebuild my battered life, I sure wish I had gotten the funds for a nice, tropical vacation. C’est la vie.

There may be bloodsuckers, I freely admit it. But as I drove in to New Orleans today, I passed the empty homes of a million missing people. No bloodsuckers appeared in the daylight, none were visible anywhere. All I saw was destruction, desolation, and ruin.

And as I looked on the shattered homes of New Orleans, and smelled the fetid stench that lingers here still, I wondered:  What if Katrina had broken another city? Not New Orleans, say, but New York? Would we stand for a mostly empty city nine months later? Would we find fault in everything that’s been done? Or would we roll up our national sleeves and do something? Ten months ago, I thought I knew the answer. Now I don’t.

Sometimes I am too weary to wonder. Nothing is the same, everything is shattered, and while there are surely many, many villains, there are opportunities, too, for heroes. Where are they? That’s what I’d like to know. Where?

Nahanni says:"If it ... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

Nahanni says:
"If it were up to me I would cut them ALL off from any kind of federal funding. It is money wasted. The Old River project along with the levees should be dismantled, too. For too long we have ruined the delta by forcing the river to go to New Orleans. New Orleans is not worth it IMHO. Sorry, but that is the truth."

And we are hearing this message loud and clear and I personally have nothing but disgust for any American that has such a lack of nationhood (and decency) to actually say such a thing. This is the message we in the disaster area have gotten... "You are on your own. You are not WORTH our support. Being part of the union of the USA is really conditional, not absolute, but keep paying your federal taxes until you need help." The thing that saves us is that it was actually the governments fault! What is going to happen to YOUR home if it is just a natural disaster, like Spanish flu?
Daniel Morris: I too had no doubt of the support of the nation 10 months ago, but I see the same thing you do. The same people here that will call you a bloodsucker will also tell you to stop whining and just pick up the mess. At one time I thought they really just had no idea of the vastness of destruction. Now I sadly realize they really just don't want to be bothered. The only thing that matters is to spin, spin, spin (Like Louisiana corruption, even though all of the money has been basically kept out of local hands, contributing to the slow pace of help) to save their precious political position. The citizens themselves don't count and that in the end is going to be their Achilles heel.

"Like Louisiana corruption,... (Below threshold)

"Like Louisiana corruption, even though all of the money has been basically kept out of local hands, contributing to the slow pace of help"

We've tried putting it in "local" hands, and we get headlnes like "$1.4 billion in fraud."

Meanwhile, of all of the people who moved here from New Orleans (and who are taking work from me because there's a lot of cheaper labor suddenly on the market), I don't know more than one or two who are even talking about moving back, and most of them didn't even lose their homes.

Keep spinning baby!... (Below threshold)
doctorj:

Keep spinning baby!




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