In the wake of the recent news that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US government agency responsible for handling large scale emergencies, was strong-arming other agencies into hushing up the fact that their temporary housing for Katrina victims were contaminated with formaldehyde, going so far as to forbid the CDC from using words like ‘cancer’ in their report. Some of you may not know much about FEMA, so I’ve compiled a brief timeline of the agency.
- 1979: FEMA is founded as an independent agency reporting directly to the President.
- 2002: Reacting quickly to 9/11, Bush combines the FBI, CIA, NSA and FEMA into the Department of Homeland Security to allow the agencies to share information and react quickly to domestic terrorism.
- 2003-04: FEMA responds to a string of major hurricanes in Florida by setting up booths where they distributed checks to anyone who claimed to be affected. Later analysis showed most of the checks were handed out in areas hundreds of miles from where the hurricanes hit. Miami received the majority of FEMA’s cash, despite being unaffected.
- 2005, 3 days before Katrina makes landfall in New Orleans: Everyone with a TV watches as Hurricane Katrina approaches. Experts warn that the levees can not withstand a category 5 hurricane and if they break the city will be flooded.
- 2 days before: Residents are urged to flee the city. FEMA, believing that everyone will evacuate New Orleans in time, does nothing to prepare.
- 1 day after Hurricane Katrina floods the city: Camera crews from every station arrive in the city by boat or helicopter. People are living in filth in the Superdome, without food or running water. Violence breaks out.
- 3 days after: FEMA head Michael Brown is interviewed by CNN. When asked what FEMA intends to do about the situation in the Superdome, he admits he didn’t know about the Superdome refugees until the reporter asked him. Bush addresses the nation: “no one could have foreseen that the levees would break.”
- 5 days after: National Guard arrives at the Superdome. The Mayor and Governor complain that FEMA’s red tape is making it impossible to get any money or assistance in a timely manor. Bush assures the nation that New Orleans will be rebuilt, praises Michael Brown for doing a heckuvajob.
- 10 days after: FEMA leaps into action, purchasing 10,000 mobile home trailers to temporarily house families left homeless by Katrina. Unfortunately, the trailers are delivered to the wrong state, one not even hit by Katrina, where they are left to rot in an open field for six months after which inspectors rule them unusable due to mold and rot.
- 12 days after: Michael Brown is sent back to Washington and resigns a few days later. He later writes a book and tours the country blaming Bush, Homeland Security Director Chertoff, the media, the public and everyone who didn’t evacuate. Still claims he did a heckuvajob.
- 6 months later: After months of waiting in line or on hold to apply for FEMA assistance, those who navigated the sea of red tape successfully finally recieved their FEMA checks. Strip clubs in Texas report record profit as displaced Louisianans celebrate the arrival.
- 2006: Clean up in New Orleans continues. FEMA now houses almost 150,000 families. FEMA announces that it has been more than enough time for them to rebuild their homes and begins evicting families from their trailers.
- 2007: FEMA, knowing that the trailers where 40,000 families stilled lived were unsafe, forces the Centers for Disease Control to suppress a report that living in a trailer filled with poisonous formaldehyde fumes for months could result in illness, even cancer. Centers for Statement of the Obvious refused to comment.
- 2008: Families living in those trailers find out about the formaldehyde from this blog, are angry but not at all surprised.