The latest FEMA flap has to do with the agency's refusal to acknowledge residents' complaints about high formaldehyde levels in the trailers they were given as temporary shelter. People living in the residences have been reporting health problems for over a year, but FEMA would not conduct tests to determine the safety of the homes, allegedly fearing the legal implications of recognizing the dangers. Up until the very recent bad press clippings, FEMA even insisted on continuing to distribute the units.
Here are a few articles, if you want to get caught up on the latest:
- FEMA rethinks trailers (Associated Press)
- Air quality studied in FEMA trailers (The Times-Picayune)
- FEMA's Toxic Environment (Washington Post Editorial)
In the area around Buras, where I volunteered this Spring, most of the homes were destroyed by the storm surge such that only their foundations remain. It was essential for the residents to have those trailers to live in while the community tried to gut and rebuild. The health hazards in the post-hurricane Gulf are already great and the care options are limited, so it's heartbreaking to find out that the FEMA trailers add their own toxicity to the mix.
For FEMA to pretend that the problem never even existed borders on the absurd, but it's par for the course considering the administration the agency serves. If you espouse a philosophy that government is too big and cumbersome to be effective, your governance will self-fulfill that prophecy.
The Bushies embrace radical privatization and free market solutions, believing that business can better provide social services. To help sell that concept to the American people, they've encouraged ignorance and incompetence in their appointed officials. For them, putting the health and well being of the American people at risk is a small price to pay for perpetuating that all consuming ideology.
(Photo by Infrogmation)