Wednesday, June 14, 2006

What about Hurricane Wilma?????

AP reports that the GOA has found that FEMA wasted almost 20% of the money it spent on Katrina and Rita on fraudulent claims. This is more than government incompetence or criminality run amok, for me this this is personal.

The news that the GOA has found that FEMA doled out more than $1.4 billion in bogus assistance to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, nearly 16% of the total spent so far, is no surprise, though; this is just history repeating itself all over again. In 2004 thousands of residents in South Florida's Miami/Dade County were given millions in relief funds by FEMA even though Hurricane Frances didn't hit the area. My parents who suffered damage to their manufactured home in Martin County --- further north where the storm actually did hit --- were denied assistance at that time.

But this is no biggie, right; Donna Dannels, acting deputy director of recovery for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told a House hearing the congressional conclusions "represent a fraction of the overall assistance provided." [AP] Sixteen percent: I guess, in Bush-speak that's a fraction!

The NYT reports that:

"Emergency aid was used to pay for football tickets, the bill at a Hooters in San Antonio, a $200 bottle of Dom Perignon, "Girls Gone Wild" videos, even an all-inclusive weeklong Caribbean vacation...More than $5 million went to people who had provided cemeteries or post office boxes as the addresses of their damaged property. FEMA also provided cash or housing assistance to more than 1,000 prison inmates, totaling millions of dollars; one inmate used a post office box to collect $20,000.

Last year as the nation strained to deal with the duel disasters of Katrina and Rita, yet another storm, Wilma, hit my family’s home, the fourth in two years to do so; this time absolutely destroying their home. In the almost seven months since their roof was ripped off and their lives turned upside down, their retirement savings are completely gone, their mental and physical well-being have been severely damaged and FEMA has again denied them assistance.

Perhaps, if my veteran father had asked FEMA for money to get a sex-change operation or my mother had been in prison they might have had a better chance at getting the aid they desperately need!


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