FEMA Lets Down the Stimulus Cause in Post-Katrina Louisiana

From USA Today:

A massive effort to fix public works destroyed more than three years ago by the Gulf Coast hurricanes remains largely stalled, leaving more than $3.9 billion in federal aid unspent and key repairs far from complete.....

Nearly 3½ years after those storms hit, new FEMA accounting reports show two-thirds of the money to pay for permanent rebuilding work still has not been spent, the latest bottleneck in a recovery long beset by criticism that it has been too slow and inefficient.....

State and local officials say FEMA puts too many restrictions on how that money can be spent. "The whole process is bogged down," says Louisiana Recovery Authority Director Paul Rainwater, who coordinates the state's efforts.

Of course, while the locals blame FEMA, FEMA blames the locals. FEMA man James Stark

says most of the delays are caused by local governments trying to wring more money out of the federal government, sometimes ignoring legal limits on what disaster aid can pay for.

Link via Rational Review.

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  • ||

    Both the local complaints about FEMA and FEMA complaints about the locals are perfectly consistent, if what is going on is the locals trying to divert money from the intended purposes of the FEMA funding.

  • T||

    Louisiana Recovery Authority Director Paul Rainwater

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this whole problem caused by rain water?

  • Xeones||

    Naw, T, you're thinking about FEMA's liaison with the state of Louisiana, John M. Buildacitybelowfuckingsealevelinagoddamnhurricanezone.

  • cmace||

    Maybe they'll spend the current stimulus money as fast as they're spending the Katrina money, maybe never

  • ||

  • Brian Doherty||

    Xeones wins thread.

  • ||

    The wrong people were in charge post-Katrina. In the massively larger stimulus packaged winding it's way towards approval on Capitol Hill, the right people will be in charge so this kind of wasteful rigamarole will be avoided.

    Or it will be SNAFU.

    Place your bets.

  • ||

    There are inherent limits to government aid. The right and left limts are as follows. You can go out and spend like crazy and make sure the money is spent timely and relief gets there quickly. The downside to that is that you can't spend money quickly and also have a good audit trail and ensure that some of the money isn't stolen or misused. The quicker you spend, the more is misused or stolen. The other limit is that you can go out and put a ton of auditing requirements and ensure that every penny is used properly and not stolen. But when you do that it doesn't get spent very fast and the relief doesn't get there in a timely manner.

    You can have transperancy and accountability or you can have speed. But you can't have both. People never think of that when they are deciding to throw federal money at every problem.

  • ||

    I don't know about that John, transparency vs speed. Disasters have happened for a long damn time. If FEMA did its homework before disasters hit, they would know exactly to whom and where money goes in the different situations, adjusting with knowledge rather than just throwing money at a problem and hoping it gets right or dotting i's and crossing t's after it's too late. I mean, all the people who work at FEMA day in and day out, what are they doing when a disaster is not happening? They should be planning and assessing situations daily.

    "What would we do if A happened, or B, or A and B with a little G thrown in?" I bet they are just sitting there playing sudoku or some shit.

  • ||

    If FEMA did its homework before disasters hit, they would know exactly to whom and where money goes in the different situations, adjusting with knowledge rather than just throwing money at a problem and hoping it gets right or dotting i's and crossing t's after it's too late.

    You see? The wrong people were in charge.

    FEMA should have learned from all of the other major US port cities that had been flooded by a hurricane coupled with broken, inadequate levees.

  • Domesh||

    The complaints flowing between Federal and State authorities are both valid. I have no reason to believe otherwise. But therein lies the inherent problem of "government aide." Since the inception of FEMA by President Carter (1979), it has become every bit the leviathan Republicans and libertarians of that time, warned it would be. FEMA is nothing short of welfare for the States. And like other forms of welfare, it results only in increasing the power of the central government and increasing the dependency of the recipients. States and individuals are far less inclined these days to invest much into disaster preparedness and recovery as they know that the Feds will gleefully pick up the tab. That's the power of "incentives." Calvin Coolidge once vetoed a disaster relief Bill noting that he could find no place in the Constitution which gave him the right to spend the peoples' money in that manner.

    The problem here is not government inefficiency. No intelligent being expects such a beast to be wholly efficient. The problem is the fact that the government has arrogated to itself the authority to engage in such acts and the people have acquiesced in it, in fact demanded it, all too often.

  • ||

    J sub D, your sarcasm reflects my actual point.

    A) Hurricane zone
    B) City below sea level
    C) Mississippi Fucking River!
    D) Lake Pontchartrain
    E) 400,000 people
    F) Drinking town with a football problem
    G) levees a plenty
    H) 1000 school buses
    I) 4 days notice
    J) Democrats in charge at local level
    K) Democrat voters abundant in local population

  • Reinmoose||

    Nick -
    Ci) rerouted
    Cii) walled

  • ||

    Nick,

    FEMA does plan for these things. The problem is that you can only plan so much. No one knows what buildings are going to get hit and who exactly will need aid until the disaster actually happens. When it does happen, rest assured a bunch of people who are not entitled to aid are going to try to work the system. The only way around the process of sorting through who is deserving and who is not, is to just say fuck it and hand out money to everyone and not care if it is stolen.

    The point is that people should not depend on the feds for immediate relief and should rely on themselves not FEMA. FEMA can only do so much so fast.

  • Fred||

    Wooooo! Rational Review! Thank you so much for usefully pointing us to that obscure news source, "USA Today."

  • ||

    The point is that people should not depend on the feds for immediate relief and should rely on themselves not FEMA. FEMA can only do so much so fast.

    Edible food, clean water and blankets.

    That's about it. Anything else is punishing those who choose safer environs.

  • ||

    Reinmoose, C is still a present factor considering it's strength and the fact that it is unnaturally rerouted. The wall could break and then just forget it. Nawlins would be renamed Davy Jones' Seaside Locker.

    And, I never said all those points were affected or relevant to Hurricane Katrina but that each was a possible factor when planning for a potential disaster at that location. The list would be much greater in the planning phase, if you're going to have a FEMA to begin with.

    Personally, I agree with J sub D's 12:59pm.

  • T||

    When you can go to a museum in the French Quarter, and they show you lovely exhibits of what the city will look like when the dikes finally go, I think everybody realizes there's an issue. The monumental lack of planning and execution from all levels of local government does tend to excuse the fed.

    J sub D is right. MREs, bottled water, and those horrible wool blankets are all you get. Don't like it? Plan better. I live in Houston and I'm prepared for a hurricane. If you live in NOLA, your planning should be better than mine.

  • ||

    J sub D is right. MREs, bottled water, and those horrible wool blankets are all you get.

    I like it. The state commitment should be "we'll keep you alive." You want more than that? Good. Get after it.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Yo! Fuck Nawlins!

    Inspired by Xeones

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