The Continuing FEMA Follies in New Orleans


The Wash Post has a story about "Waste in Katrina Response." Who'da thunk it, but the FEMA crew's snafus were hardly limited to questions about response time, evac routes, etc. "The toll of false starts and missed opportunities," writes the Post, "appears likely to top $1 billion." Among the lowlights:

FEMA spent $900 million to buy 25,000 manufactured homes and 1,300 modular homes, most of which cannot be used because agency rules say they are too big or unsafe in flood zones.

The agency spent $632 million to subsidize hotel rooms for tens of thousands of families at an average cost of $2,400 a month, three times what it later paid families to rent two-bedroom apartments.

The agency spent $249 million to secure 8,136 cruise-ship cabins for six months, at a cost that Inspector General Richard L. Skinner estimated at $5,100 a month per passenger. That is six times the cost of renting two-bedroom apartments.

Skinner's report cites a "basic lack of understanding" of FEMA regulations for the $900 million manufactured- housing fiasco and a "fundamental lack of planning" for a makeshift program under which FEMA is reimbursing localities to lease 66,000 apartments for evacuees. It found the cruise ship program "not necessarily efficient."

Whole thing here.

Reason's December 2005 issue had a special section on "Public Policy Failure and Hurricane Katrina" that included articles by Jesse Walker, Kerry Howley, Ronald Bailey, Jeff A. Taylor, Jacob Sullum, and others. Check it out here.