FEMA Class Action in NOLA
FEMA housing storage criticized
By DAVID GIALANELLA
SUN HERALD WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON - FEMA has been subjected to a good deal of criticism since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, but this time the complaints come from the inside.
According to a recent report issued by Homeland Security Inspector General Richard L. Skinner, between $3 million and $4 million worth of the modular housing units stored in Texarkana, Texas, were left exposed to the elements and rendered irreparable. The report was sent to FEMA Director R. David Paulison before being made public last week.
"FEMA officials said that the disorderliness was due to the manufacturer's packaging," Skinner said in the report. "They said that neither a manufacturer's representative nor a FEMA contracting official was present during the delivery of the components."
The prefabricated units are designed to be assembled completely when they arrive at their destination, at which point, all components are protected from the elements, Skinner said. The FEMA units were stored unassembled, many merely covered with tarps and some with no protection at all, the report said.
"FEMA officials advised us that the tarps have been replaced several times because... sunrays and rain had destroyed the tarps," the report said. "However, the damage has already been done."
The report recommends that FEMA inventory all its modular homes, formally write off units damaged beyond repair and ensure remaining units are properly stored.
Dear Friends and Allies:
We at the Public Interest Law Project need your brief assistance in our interviewing of evacuees for a new class action against FEMA in New Orleans this week. Alejandra Almonte, an attorney with the Weil firm whose family lives in New Orleans, will be there this week to interview evacuees who are (1) subject to recoupment, (2) not been recertified or have been wrongfully discontinued and are filing appeals, and/or (3) have mental disabilities.
We would greatly appreciate your assistance in connecting Alejandra with evacuees or organizations or individuals who can assist in making those contacts. We have prepared major litigation to protect these evacuees but will not file in without many evacuee stories to make their case effectively.
FEMA has consistently provided housing assistance to most all evacuees who have presented their stories through declarations made for similar cases. Making the effort to refer them or enable our contact is therefore well worth it for theindividual evacuees as well as the many evacuees who are similarly situated.
Please let me know if you might assist us in this effort.
Please contact Common Ground Legal Advocacy at 504-717-7324 to assist residents in connecting with this opportunity.
The Public Interest Law Project 449 15th Street, Suite 301 Oakland, CA 94707