FEMA by zhangyun



       The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was and is still in charge

of identifying all housing solutions and solving the problem that faces thousands of

families displaced by hurricane Katrina. FEMA’s mission is being helped by different

organizations around the country including state parks, military bases, and all available

housing stock. The Carnival Cruise line has even offered to supply some of their cruise

ships to temporarily help house the displaced victims of hurricane Katrina. Two of these

cruise ships are being sent to Galveston, Texas where they will be able to provide shelter

for up to 5,200 evacuees. A third ship is preparing to move from Charleston, North

Carolina to Mobile, Alabama to help with the relief effort. This ship will be able to hold

up to 1,000 people.

       The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also considering other ways to

manage the growing crisis along the Gulf Coast. Deploying thousands of FEMA trailer

homes to make up little “trailer parks” is just one option. Some hotels and motels are

being contracted by FEMA to provide shelter for some of the displaced families. Buying

vacant property and building houses is another option for FEMA. These are just a few

more ways that FEMA is trying to conquer the daunting task that they have been

challenged with by hurricane Katrina.

       The Carnival Cruise line has offered three of its cruise ships to be used as

temporary housing for thousands of hurricane Katrina’s victims. The deal between
FEMA and the U. S. Government have been highly criticized by local and other

government officials. The $236 million dollar deal could have been drastically reduced

when you consider that the country of Greece was willing to let us use two of their ships

free of charge. The excuse given by FEMA for denying this offer was that they did not

know how long it would take for us to get the ships from Greece. If these ships were at

full capacity for six months, with a total of 7,116 evacuees, the price per evacuee would

range from $1,000 to $1,500 a week. A seven-day Caribbean cruise can be booked for

$599 per person.

       The six-month deal with the Carnival Cruise line for three full service cruise

ships, which now sit mostly empty in the Gulf of Mexico, has been highly criticized by

lawmaker and government officials from both political parties as a direct example of

wasteful spending in Katrina related efforts. Senators Tom Coburn (R- Oklahoma) and

Barack Obama (D- Illinois) stated, “Even if the Carnival contract were a good one- and it

most certainly is not- it is inexplicable why FEMA would fail to implement the Greek

government’s offer of free cruise ships.”

       President George W. Bush took the blame today for the slow response to

hurricane Katrina. Questions were raised among various government agencies about the

United States preparedness for terrorist attacks or another major natural disaster like

hurricane Katrina. “Katrina exposed serious response capability at all levels of

government,” Bush said. “And to the extent the federal government did not do its job
right, I take responsibility.” This comment came just one day after the resignation of

Michael Brown, the former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Brown was the person receiving most of the criticism for the slow response to Katrina.

President Bush was criticized also for the pace of the relief efforts, and for praising his

FEMA director (Michael Brown) during a tour of the Gulf Coast region.

       FEMA is not only using cruise ships to house the victims of hurricane Katrina,

they are also moving camper trailers into state parks along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi

and Alabama. Evacuees with transportation are being allowed to stay at the parks, free of

charge if they are able to get there. Lawmakers questioned if moving trailers into state

parks would damage the parkland or harm the natural beauty of the parks. By September

9th, about 1,371 evacuees were living in 517 Federal Emergency management Agency-

furnished mobile homes or facilities on the campgrounds of thirteen state parks. On

September 15, only seen percent of the 1,347 trailers in the parks had evacuees actually

living in them, and only 290 of the trailers were ready for occupants. Alabama Governor,

Bob Riley, opened all of Alabama’s state parks as emergency shelters for anyone needing

assistance. When these parks were surveyed by FEMA officials, they received

conflicting information referring to the parks actual use as a shelter. According to

DeSoto State Park Superintendent Tim Whitehead, FEMA began moving trailers into the

park. Approximately fifty trailers have been brought into the park but have not been

placed at their specific campsites. “Right now, we are as in the dark as anybody else. On

Friday, we were under the impression that we were not getting any trailers from FEMA
and now we have,” (The Times Journal) Whitehead said. The number of hurricane

evacuees at Alabama state parks has almost tripled over the last few weeks.

       On Monday, September 12, the first batch of trailers for hurricane evacuees

arrived at Monte Sano State Park campground (The Huntsville Times). The campground

has set aside thirty-eight campsites. This was done at the request of the Federal

Emergency Management Agency. Workers were hard at work leveling the campers,

filling up propane tanks, setting up steps, and hooking up sewer and electrical lines. This

process could take work crews anywhere from five to seven days for each trailer. There

is only one campground not participating in the relief program; Gulf State Park remains

extremely vulnerable to hurricanes and tropical storms.

       Military bases along the Gulf Coast are another option that the Federal

Emergency Management Agency has to help with the growing housing crisis. State

Representative Thomas C. Petrone called on the President and Congress to direct FEMA

to put military bases, being considered for closure by the Federal Base Realignment and

Closure Commission, to use. Petrone says that military bases have a sound infrastructure

and are capable of housing large numbers of people for a long period of time. They

provide beds, showers, kitchens and working plumbing and electricity already in place.

“With FEMA on the Gulf Coast struggling to get evacuees anywhere their basic needs

can be met, I am seeing a connection. That connection is to use military bases now and

any time in the future where people become totally uprooted from their homes,” Petrone
stated (www.pahouse.com). His plan urges the Federal Government to give FEMA the

power to use certain military bases around the country for crises in the future such as

another natural disaster, terrorist attacks, and other federal emergencies where people are

forced out of their homes.

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