RO? Heckuva Job, FEMA

I’m not sure if this is Recreational Outrage or not. But it’s got me pissed:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/06/11/fema.giveaway/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

“Of course government doesn’t work! Just look at how many incompetent people are running things!”

—self-fulfilling Republican argument

What did FEMA do with all that ice they bought? You know, the ice that was shipped from minneapolis to NOLA, then to maine (cause there was no room/use for it in NOLA)? Did we wind up paying to warehouse that too?
Heckofa job, Brownie!

I don’t regard that as a self-fulfilling argument.

I would like to know, though, why the state of Louisiana would turn down this stuff.

FEMA shouldn’t be under DHS, especially the NFIP.

Just to bring some meat to the buffet, I found this, an explanation of the FEMA Logistics Supply Chain:

So requests have to start at local and state levels - in keeping with how we’ve always managed disasters in the past. And if the state turns down the supplies, FEMA has no authority to give them away anyway.

This isn’t a defense of FEMA in any way, but if the state of Louisiana dropped the ball here they should be included in the rant.

Where does it say that this is what happened?

The article says something about the stuff being offered to state agencies and nobody in Louisiana expressed interest.

In the article it does say that LA was one of the states to turn down the supplies.

I am willing to bet that the state turned down the stuff, because accepting it would mean:

  1. they would have to store the stuff somewhere
    20 accepting it would mean accepting some kind of budget cut (they don’t want that)
    Heck, once stuff is bough, the govenment doesn’t care what happens to it, as long as it doesn’t affect the bureacracie’s access to future funding.
    I’ll be a lot of this stuff gets sold for pennies on the dollar.

The article also says this:

This sounds like a supreme disconnect. Unity tells FEMA it needs things. FEMA tells state. State, unaware of this, refuses. FEMA doesn’t tell Unity about this. Saying that “Louisiana turned down the supplies, so FEMA couldn’t do anything. Sorry” still sounds like a grievous dereliction of duty. If getting supplies to the people that need them isn’t their job, what is?
There’s still a lot that’s unsaid. You’d think that Unity would be in contact with the State agencies, and that they would be in touch with whoever FEMA contacted, but the article says nothing about that end of it. But it’s still not enough to let FEMA off the hook.

I never said it did. But we have a thing called local control in this country - FEMA actually can’t intervene in a disaster unless asked to by local and state authorities in the first place.

If FEMA were to go around handing out supplies without working with local and state agencies, the political consequences would be awful anywhere - and they would have been worse in Louisiana, run at the time by a Democratic governor and Democratic elected officials in New Orleans.

So there is a disconnect - clearly there is. But even if FEMA knows Unity needs stuff, without a request from the state, they probably can’t give them anything. And while that might be awful to think about, I think the alternative might be worse.

Frankly, I trust my local officials and our state agencies in the event of a disaster far more than FEMA, and I want them in charge.

Oh my, yes, that is quite a pickle, isn’t it? Let’s see if I can figure out a way that this might have been handled differently. Lord knows I probably won’t be able to come up with anything, since these FEMA people are highly skilled professionals who really care and spend lots of time thinking about how to help people in a disaster, but let’s see what I can come up with.

After six seconds of consideration, I have come up with a solution. Perhaps, when Unity called FEMA and asked for the shit, instead of just flat turning them down, FEMA could have said “Yes we have warehouses full of shit that we can’t get rid of, but we can’t give it to you without Louisiana asking us to first. Why don’t you call Louisiana authorities and see if you can get the ball rolling?” Then Unity can call the governor’s office or whoever and light a fire under their asses. As it was, Unity didn’t even know the stuff existed.

Granted, my solution will have to be passed through a number of committees and would end up taking up 18 pages in a FEMA manual, but I think it is ultimately doable. Although I’m sure Brownie could fuck it up if he really tried.

I came up with a solution too. It’s to have UNITY run by someone who is competent enough to do the 5 minutes of research Mr. Moto did, and as intelligent as the reporter who found the Louisiana Federal Property Assistance Agency that was responsible for getting FEMA’s stuff and distributing it.

Look, I’m not excusing anything here. If anything this information raises even more questions.

I’m not sure the extent to which FEMA can respond directly to a community group, nor am I sure the extent to which Unity was similarly begging for state help. And getting some of this information from the FEMA website is about impossible.

I don’t want anyone to think I’m excusing anyone - the only thing I wanted to know at the outset was why Louisiana turned the supplies down.

Yeah, that’s all well and good, but can you run a horse-show? :dubious:

It is when Republicans deliberately put unqualified ideological suckups and apparatchiks in positions of authority. It’s a wonder that some of these yokels don’t choke on their own tongues midway through their loyalty oaths.

I think it’s what happens when you get people in authority who think “Catch-22” is an instruction manual.

Enough time has passed so these two anecdotes can be told.

  1. Remember all those FEMA trailers? You know, the ones the Katrina/Rita survivors stayed in, with the last leaving just this year? FEMA took delivery of thousands of those trailers. Brand, spanking new. Many went to survivors, thousand ended up unused in farm fields.

Then there were hundreds, if not thousands, that were trashed outright. Why? They didn’t pass FEMA inspection upon delivery. A broken $10 seal around the built-in air conditioner means it failed. Was a $10 seal purchased so it would pass inspection? Nope, the brand new entire trailer was trashed. Delivered with a cracked window. Replace the pane? Nope, the brand new entire trailer was trashed. Ad infinitum. You paid for them.

  1. FEMA set up quite a few staging areas, post-Katrina, for supplies and the like. One staging area was a collection point for FEMA transportation to be used by FEMA employees throughout the hard hit areas. FEMA purchased quite a few fully-featured private coaches (buses). Yes, I’m talking top of the line with leather seating, refrigerators, stoves, the lot. Some even came with combined washer/dryers. In other words, a celebrity’s delight when travelling.

At one staging area these brand new $300,000 coaches came in for a retrofit. There were all gutted to the walls. Room was made for folding tables and chairs for holding FEMA meetings. That’s it.

The leather chairs, refrigerators, stoves, washer/dryers, beds, counters, etc., were trashed. Nope, not recycled back to the manufacturers nor donated to Katrina victims. Trashed, as in gutted from the coaches direct to dumpsters for landfill.

While I don’t doubt the fuck-up capabilities of FEMA at all, this sounds ludicruous. Could you source this, please?