February 26th, 2009
12:45 PM ET
9 years ago

New Senate report blasts FEMA over housing

A new report gets tough on Obama.

A new report gets tough on Obama.

(CNN) - Despite years of warnings, the Federal Emergency Management Agency had no plan to house disaster victims after Hurricane Katrina and remains unprepared for another catastrophe, a Senate investigation concluded Thursday.

The probe found FEMA failed to prepare for a major disaster even after a 2004 exercise by emergency responders predicted a quarter of a million people could be left homeless by a major hurricane strike on New Orleans, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu told reporters.

"So when the storm hit, they just started ordering trailers with no thought to how expensive it would be, where they would put them, how expensive it would be set them up or what the capacity would be to manufacture them to begin with," said Landrieu, D-Louisiana.

Landrieu said FEMA had concluded it was unable to house large numbers of disaster victims as early as 2002, and it "wasted" $15 billion on inadequate housing after Katrina. The agency also resisted efforts by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist in finding homes for people displaced by the storm.

The report came after a nine-month probe by a Senate subcommittee on disaster relief led by Landrieu. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said the report was "a damning indictment of the continued incompetence of FEMA," but Landrieu said the report is also meant to be "a blueprint for reform" for them Obama administration.

There was no immediate response from the agency, which has battled intense criticism since Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in August 2005. The storm left more than 1,800 dead, most of them in Louisiana, and flooded more than three-quarters of New Orleans, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

Filed under: FEMA
soundoff (99 Responses)
  1. Where is the OUTRAGE when in 2001 GW BUSH gave 1.35 trillion dollars in TAX CUT to the RICH & CORPORATE AMERICA

    Where is Bobby Jind-who? -He should be working to clean up this mess instead of spewing out talking points from Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity!

    Anywayz, Louisiana will now end up like one of slums in slum-dog millionaire. I heard Piyush-now-called-Bobby is from there!!!!!

    February 26, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. Phil Butcher

    Report should reflect the real culprit. George Bush and the Homeland Security Department for dismantling FEMA and making it a subsidary for their whipping boy

    February 26, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. carlo

    Erik S:

    Surely you can't be that stupid. Katrina happened under Bush's watch. That's why its his fault. It was also his bright idea to put it under Homeland Security and put "brownie" over FEMA. No amount of ranting and raving on your part will change that.

    February 26, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. america first

    fema was a man made disaster.

    February 26, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. Hominid

    Everyone in here agrees that government is incompetent and yet the libs want to make a bigger government, and let it health care and banks?!!! Brilliant

    February 26, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. abc

    people around the country and the world were so angry at the government's response before & after Katrina but at the end of the day, it all comes down to the people of Louisiana. a wholesome majority voted for McCain during presidential election and voted for Jindal as governor so all the rest of us can do is just express our concern. we as everyday citizens can only do so much for the suffering ones, it's up to the locals to stand up to their government, if they disagree the treatments received.
    apparently, majority of Caucasian & African American folks there support Jindal's ideology and his effort on Katrina, so be it. it's the people that can bring results.
    there are many cities around the world under the sea level... and doing much work to create jobs by improving the existing condition. one country in example, Holland, has created so many jobs and climate friendly development because of this problem. there always plenty of positives from a negatives, depends on one's pursuit.

    February 26, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  7. Angela

    What a bunch of losers. Too stupid to leave low ground during a hurricane, and still crying about it all these years later.

    Centralized planning is always a losing proposition. I wish the greedy liberals could just take care of themselves instead of crying that somebody else needs to do something.

    Nothing the government does is cost effective, or efficient in any manner.

    Grow up already! I didn't hear the people in Iowa whining when their cities were underwater. They just let the water recede and started rebuilding, because they're just better at being self-sufficient and productive people.

    February 26, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  8. Steve (the real one)

    Henry Miller, Cary, NC February 26th, 2009 1:08 pm ET
    It's funny that Landrieu is beating up FEMA for being unprepared for a once-in-a-century hurricane, ...................
    Henry I agree with you. Landrieu's brother Mitch is the Lt Gov in La (a Dem), former Gov Blanco (a dem), N.O. Mayor Nagin (a dem) , "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, (former Dem congressman from N.O.) (I see a trend here), They all did nothing but hold their hands out. The local governement are the first responders, not the feds! Yet Nagin get re-elected and Bush gets blame

    February 26, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  9. John

    FEMA is staffed with amateurs. Ask Senator Tim Johnson...

    February 26, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  10. t wahl

    Your piece on college students and tuition was most irritating ...especially the young girl. I hate to be an "old, out of touch person" but when I went to college (using financial aid) money was my primary worry and justifiably so. When aid was totally denied in my senior year, I had to find the money. I went to school with students working a full-time job and going to school full time. Through sacrifice and work we made it.
    College is a sacrifice but the rewards are great. In other words. "No struggle no appreciation."
    There will always be the rich who don't struggle but often they don't have an appreciation of anything. I would hope your young lady would understand this.

    February 26, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  11. Jim

    Lets see. New Orleans is below sea level. That would make it in a flood plain. Now, where I am from, you cannot build in a flood plain because you cannot get insurance. So, why are they rebuilding New Orleans.

    Now with that said. Most of the people who lived in the trailers failed to do one simple thing. Air the thing out. Formaldehyde has been used in moblie homes and travel trailers since time began. Also in new cars, etc. You have to let them air out. Not try to keep them closed up.

    Also, I find it amazing that this scare on formaldehyde did not start until the time to move out came. Then, you guessed it, the lawyers got involved.

    February 26, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool

    The biggest lie in the history of humanity.
    "I'm from the government and I'm here to help".

    February 26, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. Jim

    Yes it is the Federal Governments responsibilty to respond to everything??? Let's not make the invidual states accountable for anything. Even though it would make more sense since they understand the issues better than anyone else.

    February 26, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. Steve (the real one)

    I have a question... Does anyone seem to notice Mississippi is recovering batter and faster than La from Katrina? Is it LOCAL leadership? Just asking!

    February 26, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. Lisa B

    My God, did Bush, et. al. do ANYTHING for 8 years besides get rich with oil for blood, aka Halliburton and Iraq and deregulate the banks for an 8 year free for all? Why he was not impeached will always be one of the great regrets of this great nation. Think about it. Every single government agency in this country is in ruins. And the GOPer's have the unmitigated gall to trash President Obama on a daily basis. Sick, sick, sick.

    February 26, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. Simmy

    Steph, .....No.
    Carlo,...................You are so right. It's sad that some of those victims are still living in small cramped trailers to this date. Where is the humanity that this country was founded on?
    God will continue to bless and lead President Obama. With His help, our President will lead US out of the murk and mire that Bush bequeathed to US....Sunshine alway follows rain..... America is still the beautiful land that I love...... Put on a happy face! Amen.

    February 26, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  17. Jo

    Great job Brownie! That was what little George said. Now people are complaining. Why didn't they look into the mess little George made of FEMA. Again the Bobby J has all the answers for his state so let him fix the problem or is he too busy trying to be noticed by the donthing heads of his party.

    February 26, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  18. Angie in Pa

    Bush Is out of Office and His disaters are still carrying on!

    February 26, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  19. truthsayer

    Another do nothing agency of the Bush legacy

    February 26, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. liz

    Why spend some money and plan ahead when you can do nothing and pay 4 times more later on? Sadly, it isn't just the government I work for a corporation that is even less efficient that the feds...

    February 26, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  21. Kevin in Ohio

    What, after all, can one really expect from a government bureacracy? Government can NOT solve our problems, because Government IS the problem. Get rid of all these wasteful programs.... every single one of them!

    February 26, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  22. kelly

    Three years of living off the Government is disgusting. Three years of free rent, utilities, food, donations and ect, is a joke. Get off your butts and get your life started. I can see help for a time, but 6000 people are still getting free everything.

    They don't want a change, they just might have to get up and do something.


    February 26, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  23. jon

    I say give FEMA $20B that will solve all their problems. At least that's what PrezBO, Nancy, and Harry would say.

    February 26, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. Elly

    Its almost beyond comprehension what Bush and his cronies did while they were in office!!!!!!!!!!!!
    they should all be jailed for numerous issues and to think Bush is now going out on the talk circuit to make thousand of dollars for speeches!!!!
    I would not pay five cents to hear this loser TRY and make a speech!!
    One really does wonder how they all sleep at night!

    February 26, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
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