November 02, 2005
A FEMA-bashing twofer

It's the same familiar story, but with two new voices in the chorus.

Gov. Rick Perry and Houston Mayor Bill White on Tuesday separately criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency's continued hurricane recovery efforts in Texas and Houston.

In a sharply worded letter, Perry protested FEMA's decision to cut recovery funding to Texas, said tens of thousands of Hurricane Katrina evacuees soon will soon be evicted from temporary housing with no place to go and said FEMA has been slow to identify sex offenders and other violent criminals among Katrina evacuees.

He also said in his letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, sent one day before Chertoff is scheduled to speak in Houston, that FEMA was treating Texas victims of Hurricane Rita differently from Louisiana victims.

"As you know, natural disasters recognize no state boundaries, and neither should FEMA," Perry said.


In a visit to Washington, White complained that the pace of federal reimbursement for Houston's costs of caring for Katrina evacuees has significantly slowed.

He met with two lawmakers from Texas and Michael Jackson, deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

"I think this should be treated as an emergency matter," White said.

"In early September, when Houston was on the front line for relief of dislocated Americans, the Texas congressional delegation and people in the (Bush) administration all agreed that this would not be business as usual," he added.


So far, FEMA has sent Houston $39 million to cover expenses related to housing, non-Medicaid health care, public safety and other needs. White estimates that the city will need $175 million to break even, spokesman Patrick Trahan said.

In his letter to Chertoff, Perry noted that FEMA denied his request to continue 100 percent federal funding for debris removal and other emergency measures in affected Texas counties for another 60 days. The denial means that Texas counties now must pay 25 percent of the clean-up costs, unless President Bush grants Perry's appeal.

The governor said the rural counties of East Texas already were "shouldering a heavy burden" of Katrina evacuees from Louisiana when Rita struck.

"The budgets of sparsely populated populations have limited flexibility, and these consecutive disasters have stretched them so thinly that funding for other basic services is affected," he said.

Meanwhile, he added, FEMA approved a Louisiana request for a 30-day extension of its emergency declaration, agreeing to pay 90 percent of recovery costs for that state.

"Texas should be afforded the same reimbursement structure as our Louisiana neighbors," Perry said.

Don't really have much to ad to this except to point out once again that this is not a failure of government in general but of George Bush's government in particular. Competence, attention to detail, actually caring about whether or not one's actions lead to desireable results - all these thing matter. Government of the cronies, by the cronies, and for the cronies has real-world consequences.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 02, 2005 to Hurricane Katrina | TrackBack