Truth to Power

FEMA sitting on 3.9b for Gulf Coast…why?

Yo Barry, when ya got a minute, fire these clowns and fix the coast why dontcha?

$3.9B in hurricane aid still unspent

WASHINGTON – A massive effort to fix public works destroyed more than three years ago by the Gulf Coast hurricanes remains largely stalled, leaving more than $3.9 billion in federal aid unspent and key repairs far from complete.

The scale of that job is enormous. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has promised $5.8 billion to repair everything from flooded libraries and schools to sewer systems and roads that were ruined when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita obliterated huge sections of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005.

Nearly 3½ years after those storms hit, new FEMA accounting reports show two-thirds of the money to pay for permanent rebuilding work still has not been spent, the latest bottleneck in a recovery long beset by criticism that it has been too slow and inefficient. And despite a handful of high-profile successes, officials who had vowed to speed up the pace of repairs concede it is still going far more slowly than it should.

State and local officials say FEMA puts too many restrictions on how that money can be spent. “The whole process is bogged down,” says Louisiana Recovery Authority Director Paul Rainwater, who coordinates the state’s efforts.

City officials in New Orleans complain that FEMA regularly underestimates the cost of repairs, and even when a project gets done, it’s unwilling to pay the bills. “We can’t wait for five or 10 or 15 years. We have to rebuild now,” says Bill Chrisman, who oversees the city’s building projects. He says the city is still waiting to be paid almost $7 million for a rebuilt police headquarters that opened a year ago.</em>


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