Government Reform

Heckuva' Job

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Stored in such places as the vacant land near an airfield in Hope, Ark., an industrial park in Cumberland, Md., and a warehouse in Edison, N.J., are the results of one of the federal government's costliest stumbles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina—tens of thousands of empty trailers.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency hurriedly bought 145,000 trailers and mobile homes just before and after Katrina hit, spending $2.7 billion largely through no-bid contracts. Now, it is selling off as many as 41,000 of the homes, netting, so far, about 40 cents on each dollar spent by taxpayers.

Thousands more of the homes—critics say more than 8,000—have never been used and cannot be sold immediately, even though scores of people in the South have been made homeless by recent storms.