(Cough, Cough) Thanks, FEMA!


People are still living in FEMA trailers left after Hurricane Katrina, the trailers are basically poisoned, and the DHS has no idea to do with the poor schlubs coughing themselves silly from all the chemicals.

Katrina washed away Joe Fineran's home in Bay St. Louis, Miss., and he has lived in two travel trailers since December 2005. The first tested at 0.38 ppm of formaldehyde—nearly four times the higher EPA limit and 48 times the .008 ppm minimal-risk standard. The second tested slightly better, at 0.18 ppm. In both trailers, however, Fineran, 35, and his fiancŽe, Michelle, have suffered burning eyes, coughing and sinus attacks. "Even my dog is sick," says Fineran. "His nose is running all the time, his eyes are running."

Fineran asked FEMA to relocate him. Per the latest directive, FEMA has offered him a mobile home or a Katrina Kottage. Fineran would gladly take either one—but he has been refused permits at every turn. FEMA won't approve a Katrina Kottage unless the soil on his coastal property passes stability tests. He's paying for soil tests, but so far the results are inconclusive. He can put a mobile home on his property if he can get a permit for it from the City of Bay St. Louis—but the city has turned him down, saying it will only grant a permit if FEMA uses its federal authority to secure it.

After explaining the permit problem to a FEMA official last week and asking for help securing the mobile home permit, the FEMA staff member refused to intervene. "I said to her, 'Lady. I'm dying in this damn trailer.' And she says, 'Well, if you want to give up and die, go ahead.' I won't tell you what I said next," Fineran laughs.

Amanda Spake's whole piece is worth a read, especially the bits about the tiny FEMA database of rental units for the trailer-bound to move out into. Has anyone set up a private charity or non-profit tasked with placing Katrina victims in new homes? If not, why not?