Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Storms Show A System Out Of Balance

Storms Show A System Out Of Balance
GOP Congress Has Reduced Usual Diet of Agency Oversight


Four hurricanes had hit Florida in 2004, and the evidence was overwhelming that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had totally botched its response.


The Florida debacle revealed serious deficiencies in FEMA operations and management, but when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit six months later, the [two House committees with FEMA jurisdiction] still had not acted...


Due to what [Richard L. Skinner, acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security] called "very serious systemic weaknesses," nearly 12,600 Miami-Dade residents collected more than $31 million in payments after Hurricane Frances, although the storm hit about 100 miles to the north. The money paid for homes and cars that were not damaged, and even for funerals, when Miami-Dade reported no storm-related deaths.

Testifying then for FEMA was [then-FEMA Director Michael D.] Brown. He conceded problems in "very marginal cases" and called Skinner "just wrong" about other findings.


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