Katrina Networking

I am using my networking and marketing skills to pass along vital information to organizations, volunteers and survivors of the 2005 hurricane season. Grants, networking, advocating, assistance resources, articles and more. Updated regularly to better assist you.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

FEMA Information

3/1 - Standing Dead Tree Removal Deadline Extended to June 30
The deadline for debris removal from the street curb and demolitions remains February 28.
FEMA will continue to fund marine debris removal at 100 percent until May 15, 2007.

2/28 FEMA Trailer Extension Formally BeginsResidents Have Until August 31 to Find New Homes
In January, FEMA officials told Governor Haley Barbour that an extension to the housing deadline that was to expire at the end of February would be extended until August 31

2/20 FEMA Mobile Homes Buy Out Option - from Terra
Hello All,
I spoke with MHOPS (Mobile Home Operations) this morning and here is what I learned:
· The first round has ended and those who were eligible to purchase their FEMA Mobile home were notified by letter.
· There is a “Hold” on purchasing and people who were not notified during the first round may be contacted when the next phase opens.
· NO TRAVEL TRAILERS WILL BE SOLD. This is only for people in mobile homes.
· It will not help an applicant to call and ask to be put on a list as there is not a list being generated at this time.
· The hope is that the next phase will open in the next 6 weeks. Please ask applicants to be patient. There should be a press release when this happens. If after 6 weeks (which by my calculation puts us in April) an applicant has not heard anything, it would be appropriate to call the call center and ask if the next phase has been opened.
Have a wonderful Day!
Tammy Martin
FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaison

2/11 Spending Spree On Trailers - from Jenni
Excerpt http://www.theadvocate.com/
BATON ROUGE, La.-- Although hurricane evacuees are being pushed to find permanent housing, the Federal Emergency Management Agency continues to buy more trailers. FEMA has spent nearly $30 million since July on 2,000 new travel trailers and mobile homes that are handicapped-accessible. The agency is also seeking proposals for another 1,500. But fewer than half of the 2,000 trailers already delivered were occupied as of last week. Of the 10,000 or so handicapped-accessible travel trailers and mobile homes in FEMA's inventory, just over half house people, with the rest in storage.

1/26 Through ReliefWeb.int
BILOXI, Miss. -- The recovery effort remains strong throughout Mississippi as families rebuild their homes, communities and lives.
In partnership with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has obligated more than $9.4 billion in disaster aid to Mississippi as of Jan. 12, 2007.
Approximately $1.1 billion has been approved in the following Public Assistance (PA) categories (not including debris removal). To date, more than $990 million has been disbursed to PA applicants for rebuilding projects including bridges, public buildings and utilities. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency administers the funds.
The $1.1 billion approved for PA includes:
- $326 million for emergency protective measures;
- $415 million to repair public buildings;
- $301 million to restore public utilities;
- $58 million to restore public recreational facilities such as state parks;
- $30 million to repair roads and bridges;
- $1.6 million to repair water control devices such as reservoirs and irrigation channels.
Approximately $1.16 billion to individuals and families:
- 216,448 individuals and families have been approved for Housing Assistance totaling more than $845 million;
- 134,097 Mississippi Hurricane Katrina survivors have been approved for more than $318 million in Other Needs Assistance.
More than $1.3 billion has been approved for debris removal including nearly $222 million for marine debris and $790 million for land-based debris.
- Approximately 45 million cubic yards of eligible land-based debris has been removed from public and private property throughout the state. In addition, nearly 26 million cubic yards of debris have been removed in the lower three counties.
- The six-month extension for the removal of land-based debris in the inundated areas of the three coastal counties ends February 28, 2007.
- The U.S. Coast Guard has cleared nearly 47,000 cubic yards of marine debris, and has completed four of 16 marine debris removal contracts. Marine debris removal will be 100 percent federally funded until May 15, 2007.
Other assistance:
- FEMA paid nearly $2.5 billion through its National Flood Insurance Program to 17,170 policy holders;
- FEMA paid nearly $3 billion to other federal agencies to complete specific tasks or mission assignments during response and recovery, such as emergency medical assistance and debris removal;
- As of Jan. 16, 2007, there were 30,141 temporary housing units (travel trailers and mobile homes) in service. These units are being returned to FEMA at an average of 250 units per week.
In addition, more than $2.6 billion in U.S. Small Business Administration loans have been approved for Mississippians.
- Nearly $2.1 billion in loans to 31,086 homeowners and renters;
- More than $534 million to 4,334 businesses;
- More than $19 million to 328 small businesses for working capital.
The above figures were compiled as of Jan. 12, 2007.
The Hurricane Katrina Mississippi Recovery Update will be released on a monthly basis.
1/20 - Through Biloxi City's Site
At the state’s request, FEMA has approved the cutting of standing dead trees on property outside of the surge area in the three Coastal counties.
“This program is an expansion of the FEMA dead-tree program that had been limited to the surge inundation areas of the Coast,” said Jonathan Kiser, Biloxi’s debris-removal coordinator. “However, the dead trees must be ‘pre-validated’ by FEMA after receipt of a valid tree removal ROE form by the owner of the property.”
Tree Removal ROE forms can be obtained weekdays from the Community Development, 676 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; from Neel-Schaffer, 772 Howard Ave. or on the city’s web site at biloxi.ms.us. To see a form now, click here.
With a Feb. 28 deadline looming for debris removal, property owners are encouraged to file the ROEs as soon as possible.

1/19 FEMA Restates it's Dedication to MS (uh huh) - From Janet

1/19 Housing Extension
NEW ORLEANS — The Federal Emergency Management Agency intends to extend by at least six months its transitional housing assistance program for Gulf Coast residents displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The program was scheduled to expire next month, potentially displacing more than 100,000 households from FEMA-funded trailers, mobile homes and rental units, Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office said.
Aaron Walker, a spokesman for FEMA, confirmed the extension this afternoon, soon after Landrieu, D-New Orleans, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour announced it in separate news releases.“We have always recognized the overwhelming burden that this (storm) has placed on disaster victims,” Walker said. “We’re committed to the recovery of the Gulf Coast region, and we recognize that housing is one of the region’s greatest challenges. We felt like a six-month extension was certainly appropriate in this situation.”
Housing advocates had been pushing for the extension. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now had scheduled a Monday news conference to urge the extension. ACORN officials were not immediately available for comment.
Source: The Jackson, MS Clarion-Ledger.

1/16 New MS Director

1/12 From a Fellow Volunteer

I went to the FEMA web site trying to figure out who might be in charge of FEMA trailers. The site sucks. It has lots of links on how to go about filing for assistance (I started to say getting assistance but realized how wrong that was). Anyway at the bottom of the page is a link to their No FEAR (Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation record.

Antidiscrimination complaints have dramatically jumped in 2006 in almost every category. http://www.fema.gov/oer/eeo_data_excel.shtm I’m not an EEO type person but to have this many complaints tells me something is very wrong.


I’m thinking that the advocacy group might be able to challenge the deplorable conditions of FEMA trailers and housing including the black mold and other fungi growing in some of these places. You can put the link up on your sites for FEMA disability assistance but its way too long for you to read or post the whole thing which is in PDF anyway.

Also included in the agreement is every major newspaper and television station name, address and contact including web sites and e-mail. If someone had the ability to blow the lid about the deplorable conditions this would give them the place to take it to.


1/4 - From Gary (First 2 paragraphs only)
Latest FEMA reimbursement to Mississippi totals $18M
Reimbursement funds for Hurricane Katrina related recovery services ranging from tree removal to water system restoration are included in $18 million in federal funds approved for Mississippi.
Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott, both R-Miss., said Wednesday the grants administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are going to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency and the cities of Gulfport and Bay St. Louis for costs associated with hurricane recovery.
1/3 - From Marlene
Excerpt only
Audit says FEMA squandering Katrina aid By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - One year after Katrina, the government is still squanderingtens of millions of dollars in wasted disaster aid, including $17 million inbogus rental payments to people who had already received free trailers andapartments, federal investigators said Wednesday.

12/28 from Gary
trailers' may give way to more livable shelters
Hoping to respond more effectively after the next natural disaster to the needs of those made homeless, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is eying five proposed types of temporary housing that would replace so-called FEMA trailers with "high quality, more livable quarters," the Sun Herald of Biloxi, Miss., reports today.
According to the newspaper, FEMA has $400 million to spend on a pilot program aimed at developing such housing. About $275 million is headed for two proposals from firms in Mississippi.
One of those two proposals calls for "shotgun-styled modular houses" with "eight-foot ceilings ... storage, porches, a sense of safety, energy efficiency, conventional bedrooms and normal-sized appliances and closets," the Sun Herald says. The other Mississippi proposal is "based on portable structures used by the National Park Service to house employees working in remote areas. They can be wheeled in like a trailer and deployed quickly."
According to the Sun Herald, some people who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina 16 months ago and are still living in FEMA trailers may be moved into versions of the pilots homes in coming months. "But FEMA could not project how many who are still living in FEMA trailers will get new homes as a result of the program," it added. "There are still 84,000 such people in Mississippi."
FEMA To Restart Katrina Housing Program
POSTED: 4:44 pm CST December 18, 2006
UPDATED: 5:18 pm CST December 18, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Under a court order, the Bush administration will restart a housing program for Hurricane Katrina victims early this week and begin explaining to thousands of evacuees in Texas why their aid was cut off this summer.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled last month that the Federal Emergency Management Agency violated the Constitution when it eliminated short-term housing assistance and provided victims only confusing computer-generated codes to explain its decision.
FEMA officials testified in federal court Monday in Washington that the agency could restore the system this week -- but they didn't say how soon Texas families could begin receiving monthly checks of about $750.
Officials also said they are working to produce easily understandable letters from an outdated computer system to explain why the aid was eliminated and how to appeal the decision.
Leon also has ordered FEMA to make three months of retroactive housing payments, which would amount to checks of about $2,250 for each eligible family. FEMA estimated 4,200 Texas families are covered by Leon's order.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal judge called the Bush administration's handling of a Hurricane Katrina housing program "a legal disaster" Wednesday and ordered officials to explain a computer system that can neither precisely count evacuees nor provide reasons why they were denied aid.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who ruled last month that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had violated evacuees' constitutional rights by eliminating their housing payments without notice, admonished the government for not moving fast enough to restart the program for between 3,600 and 5,500 storm victims.
"Let me make this clear," Leon told government attorney Michael Sitcov. "Tell FEMA that I'm expecting them to get going on this. Like immediately."
Leon ruled that FEMA mishandled the transition from a short-term housing program to a longer-term program this spring and summer. Instead of explaining why funding was being cut, FEMA provided only computer-generated and sometimes conflicting program codes, Leon said.
The judge ordered FEMA to explain those decisions so thousands of evacuees can understand the reasoning and decide whether to appeal.
"I'm not looking for a doctoral dissertation," Leon said. "I'm looking for a couple of paragraphs in plain English."
Sitcov said that FEMA's computer system cannot do what the judge wants. The eight-year-old system is set up only to produce program codes, he said. The program also cannot say for certain how many evacuees in Texas were covered by Leon's order or how many people appealed the denial of their aid, Sitcov said.
"It's not as adept at doing these kinds of machinations," said Sitcov, who said the best estimate of evacuees covered by the order was 5,479.
Leon appeared bewildered and ordered FEMA officials to testify Monday about the program. He said he didn't understand why the letters couldn't be written by hand. He said 10 employees, working overtime and on weekends could translate program codes into 5,000 understandable letters in two weeks -- nearly the amount of time that has passed since his ruling.
"This is a legal disaster. People's rights are being denied," Leon said. "I don't want us to get so mired in the minutiae and the law while, in the meantime, people who need help are not getting help."
FEMA has appealed Leon's order and is hoping a higher court will block its enforcement until the appeal plays out. That ruling is unlikely before next week, and Leon said he wants the agency to start working on the problem immediately.
"Two weeks have been lost and I don't want another day to be lost," Leon said. "We've got to get moving."
Sitcov said FEMA could not comply with the order to restart the housing program because the agreements to reimburse Texas cities for rental payments have expired. Leon said he's sure local governments would be willing to make those same agreements again and said he might order Texas officials to testify Monday.
Leon also scheduled a telephone conference Friday between FEMA and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which brought the lawsuit on behalf of hurricane victims.
From Dane
12/6 - Only 1/4 of 1% will max FEMA Assistance Money.

FEMA ordered to resume Katrina payments
By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer Wed Nov 29, 6:49 PM ET
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration must immediately resume housing payments for thousands of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, a federal judge said Wednesday, heaping more criticism on the government's handling of the 2005 disaster.
U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon's ruling sharply criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency for illegally cutting housing funding and subjecting storm victims to a convoluted application process he called "Kafkaesque."
It is the second court victory for Katrina victims this week. A federal judge in Louisiana said Monday that many homeowners might be entitled to more insurance money for flood damage.
Full Story:

The South Mississippi Sun Herald June 30, 2006
Call center opens for trailer questions
A new Mississippi Maintenance/Applicant Support Call Center (866)877-6075 in Jackson will open Monday and operate 24 hours daily including holidays.
This line is for Mississippi residents with mobile home and travel trailers and a wide range of applicant issues.
Applicants who have not received a mobile home or trailer should still contact FEMA by calling (800) 621-FEMA (3362) or online at www.FEMA.gov. The TTY number for the speech- or hearing-impaired is (800) 462-7585.
The assistance call centers are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Callers can still check the status of their applications 24 hours a day, seven days a week by using the automated response system when they call the help line.

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