Government Reform

Once More, with FEMA

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Mike "Brownie" Brown's past agency is still doing a heckuva job, says the AP. Trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency literally stink–with the fumes of formaldehyde:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency came under new withering criticism Thursday after tests found dangerous levels of formaldehyde fumes in many of the trailers the agency used to house hurricane victims in Louisiana and Mississippi….

FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison said Thursday the agency would rush to find temporary housing for roughly 35,000 families now in its trailers. "We're moving as fast as we can," he said.

The agency was forced to act after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that formaldehyde fumes from hundreds of trailers and mobile homes were, on average, about five times what people are exposed to in most modern homes.

More here.

I've got no idea whether five times the fumes of "most modern homes" really means anything–I'm assuming the baseline in the latter is effectively zero. Or what health risks are associated with the formaldehyde. I do know that thousands more trailers have gone unused because FEMA didn't realize the ground they'd be on was too soft for such structures.

In the go-go world, where we eat standing up and are always on the run, looking to save time and do more, more, more in less time, can we agree to this: Let's start saying FEMA instead of SNAFU or FUBAR. We save a letter in each case, and it's clear that the one acronym will do the work of the two other words.

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  1. Open the windows….problem solved.

  2. This is happening in Florida too. However, I heard it on the news, which was in the background at the time, and I don’t recall where, and don’t care enough to look it up.

    Seriously, though, where the hell did this formaldehyde come from? Was FEMA storing dead bodies in the trailer before? Have they ever hear of a cleaning agent called bleach?

  3. This just in: Life’s a bitch when you suck off the government teat.

  4. I think the most efficient way for the government to solve this problem would be to hire more actors to pretend to be reporters and ask the right questions.

    People need to know, above all, that the government does care for them… even if it occasionally leaves them homeless or living in poisioned trailers.

  5. Let’s start saying FEMA instead of SNAFU or FUBAR.

    Fellating Enema Masticators of America?

  6. Isn’t five times zero, still zero? Kidding.

    You’d think an agency that is supposed to be prepared for emergency response, or basically what to do after the emergency is over, would know where it is safe to put trailers, like solid ground, and that those trailers are, in fact, safe. No one should ever hire anyone who has ever worked for FEMA, because they are mentally incapable of any task that involves any other person or animal, or plants or fungi, or water, or rocks, or the vacuum of space, etc.

  7. Government services at its finest. Now you see what we get to put up with in the military. Go FEMA!

  8. I think we are all missing the point: people are still living in fucking government-supplied trailers years after Katrina. What level of pathetic welfare-sucking losers are these people?

    Wah wah wah, my free trailer from the incompetent gubmin’t smells like a funeral home.

  9. Formaldeyhde is used to preserve wood, which is why it’s being found in these trailers.

    And I’m all for replacing FUBAR with FEMA.

  10. I see the milk of human kindness is still flowing here.

    Formaldehyde is found in many manufactured wood products (particle board, paneling) and insulation. Also found in synthetic fabrics.

    I blame the trailer manufacturers and not FEMA.

  11. The real reason they want those trails gone, are the BIG houses in the background. If it is still available, look behind the trailers and you will see the million dollar houses, and think!! The people that live they don’t give a dam about the people who live in the trailers neither doe FEMA. they don’t want to look at them out they big windows. How many people have lived in trailers and continue to do so, they don’t have the same problems. Any time you buy something new it will smell, open your doors and windows. The other problem is FEMA put the people on a HIGHWAY!!! what the f–k, COME ON!!!! how can you do that???? I’m sure they were other open places to put the people instead of on the fu-king highway!!! Thank you FEMA for REALLY helping those people. If it was your own what do you do????

  12. I blame the trailer manufacturers and not FEMA.

    Fair enough, if this was the first instance. But when it’s a continuing problem…

  13. I’m with Episiarch on this one.

  14. All new, unused and unventilated travel trailers have formaldehyde in them.

  15. This is what happens when you line the safety net with pillows; people fall asleep in it.

    Of course the trailers are shitty. The government bought them in a hurry and on the cheap for emergency shelter. If they knew in advance they were building a shantytown, they could have planned better.

    Blah, blah, blah heartless libertarians, blah blah racists… tell it walkin’, socialists.

  16. Just as a data point, I had a friend who worked in an office with a high level of formaldehyde. She almost died and she hasn’t really been able to work a day since that. It was 20 years ago.

    And just to forestall all the welfare remarks, she’d do anything to be employed.

  17. All new, unused and unventilated travel trailers have formaldehyde in them.

    Sorry, Cosmos don’t do trailers…

  18. Personally, I’m using low VOC paint when I paint my home. That new paint smell. Not so good.

  19. I’m not sure why the Cincy paper considers this news, as this is a really old story.

  20. Let’s start saying FEMA instead of SNAFU or FUBAR.

    Except FEMA is just where we notice how FUBAR DHS is. Maybe we could add a couple of vowels to make it an acronym. DeHoS. I like it. It’s pronounced ‘Dee Hoz’, as in the whores.

  21. All 54 mobile homes tested had levels exceeding 0.008 ppm the maximum long-term exposure limit set by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. One mobile home had a count of 0.052, which exceeds the short-term exposure limit. http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/216722/

    From Wikipedia:

    At concentrations above 0.1 ppm in air, formaldehyde can irritate the eyes and mucous membranes, resulting in watery eyes. If inhaled, formaldehyde at this concentration may cause headaches, a burning sensation in the throat, and difficulty breathing, as well as triggering or aggravating asthma symptoms.

    Formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which provides sufficient evidence that formaldehyde causes nasopharyngeal cancer in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The United States Environmental Protection Agency USEPA allows no more than 0.016 ppm formaldehyde in the air in new buildings constructed for that agency.

  22. the maximum long-term exposure limit

    What does “long-term” mean in this context? Days? Years?

    The United States Environmental Protection Agency USEPA allows no more than 0.016 ppm formaldehyde in the air in new buildings constructed for that agency.

    Which is twice the “long-term exposure limit”.

    Oh, and what Episiarch said.

  23. The government teat tastes like formaldehyde. Mmmmmm!

  24. Let’s start saying FEMA instead of SNAFU or FUBAR. We save a letter in each case, and it’s clear that the one acronym will do the work of the two other words.

    I’m sold.

  25. Let’s start saying FEMA instead of SNAFU or FUBAR. We save a letter in each case, and it’s clear that the one acronym will do the work of the two other words.

    Careful what you wish for. If this gains popularity, some politician will try to fix it, which means some politician will fuck it up even more than it has.

    Although, I suppose this is bound to happen anyway, so snark on!

  26. The government bought them in a hurry and on the cheap

    In a hurry, anyway.

  27. IMHO, no FEMA, no one hangs around for hurricanes below sea level. Just like subsidized flood insurance for the wealthy, disaster relief programs remove any incentive to get the hell out of an economically untenable location. Sure there will be idiots who continue to live in flood plains or below sea level in hurricane country, too damn bad for them. That moron who wouldn’t evacuate when Mt St. Helens blew her top gets more respect from me. He didn’t ask others to pay for his idiocy.

  28. Here’s an idea: what if the government gives, free and clear, a foreclosed home to each property owner flooded out by Katrina, in exchange for the deed to their property in New Orleans?

    In other words, clear the fucking market and start over.

    That part of New Orleans can be made into a park, and returned to its original function of a storm surge buffer.

  29. Everyplace that uses manufactured materials has formaldehyde. It’s not a question of whether you have formaldehyde in the inddor air, but how much. What you do about it is also the subject of education, much like radon, carbon monoxide and other hazards. Ventilation and circulation are two methods that work incredibly well.

    and as to this:
    Just as a data point, I had a friend who worked in an office with a high level of formaldehyde. She almost died and she hasn’t really been able to work a day since that. It was 20 years ago.

    I have a friend who doesn’t work in an office with high levels of formaldehyde. He did almost die though and hasn’t been able to work a day since that. He doesn;t really want to though. Interesting and relevant isn;t it.

  30. Fucked
    Extremely
    Much
    Always

    ?

  31. Federal Emergency Bungling Leviathan- FEBL

    Much more appropriate.

  32. And here I was hoping this would be the spontaneously musical commenting thread…

  33. What does “long-term” mean in this context? Days? Years?

    Typically a long-term exposure limit is 90 days or greater.

    The cutoffs for exposure limits to a substance are generally split into 1 hour, 24 hour and 90 day limits.

  34. Those trailers look like the typical travel trailers that many people take for “camping”. So, they are dangerous formaldehyde filled death traps. Shouldn’t they be made illegal? For the children.

    To the people of N.O.:

    Don’t bitch about the trailers the govenment put you in, be glad they didn’t load you all up in “cattle cars” and take you to the concentration camp, for being poor. Because poor people don’t buy much expensive schwag, you must be unpatriotic.

    /snark for those who just read what I wrote and were fixin to nail me for being mean to the poor.

    //At least I’m not putting poor people in formaldehyde filled trailers.

  35. P Brooks,

    Ah, yes. I had actually forgot they paid through the nose for those.

  36. I agree with zig zag. How the hell does the trailer company stay in business if their trailers cause such problems. Is it because when camping the trailers are not occupied for long periods of time, as opposed to living in them year round? So really there is nothing wrong with the trailers when used as intended. They were never intended for long term occupation. So it’s rally not FEMA’s fault.

  37. I have bought one of the trailor’s that FEMA has sold. It leaks has mold in it,can’t keep it clean from the mold,they are not fit to have! I have been having health problems since I bought it to live in. I lost my farm do to my health so I bought the trailor to have some kind of roof for me and my son,should have known it was to good to be true. Now there is supose to be a recall on them, but nobody will give the information on how to get my money back, so I can get something else for my son and me to live in. If anybody knows please e-mail me so I can resolve this problem.

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