Newspaper Series: FEMA: A Legacy of Waste

by Last Night in Little Rock

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has had an ongoing series: FEMA: A Legacy of Waste. They have a new entry today.

The Bush Administration earlier admitted in Congressional testimony posted on its own website that the Federal Emergency Mismanagement Agency is an "oversized entitlement program." The Sun-Sentinel investigation shows that is exactly how the Bush Administration treated it, doling out money to people not even harmed in storms, to cities not even touched by storms, and on and on.

One of their entries in the past include "Cashing in on Disaster" with multiple stories. The lead:

Hurricane Frances hit South Florida Labor Day weekend, 100 miles north of Miami-Dade County, but Sun-Sentinel reporters found that the federal government approved $28 million in storm claims there for new furniture and clothes and thousands of new televisions microwaves, refrigerators and other appliances. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid for new cars, dental bills and a funeral even though the Medical Examiner recorded no deaths from Frances. In an ongoing series of reports, the newspaper also found FEMA inspectors were given only cursory training and attributed damage to tornadoes - there were none recorded in the county - and in six instances listed “ice/snow’’ as the cause. The reports have prompted calls for investigations by federal and state officials and the beginnings of an inquiry by the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security.

Today's entry:

This report is the latest in a series by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel examining the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster assistance payments. The newspaper first revealed that FEMA paid $31 million in Miami-Dade County for Hurricane Frances, even though the Labor Day weekend storm made landfall 100 miles to the north. Subsequent reports detailed how FEMA inspectors receive little training; that the agency paid for funerals for deaths unrelated to the storm; and that some criminals were hired to inspect damage. The reports resulted in recommendations by a U.S. Senate committee and the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security for widespread changes in the way the agency administers its program. FEMA announced last month that it was making some alterations in the way it awards aid. The U.S. attorney in Miami has charged 16 Miami-Dade aid recipients with fraud. Fourteen have pleaded guilty and one was found not guilty after trial.

Some of today's stories:

Hundreds of millions paid to people untouched by disasters

'Free money' went to thousands after wildfires (California)

After tornado, a rush to claim cash

Disasters examined, a chart showing the actual storms, what kind of damage they caused, and what was paid out.

Bottom line: In their cursory examination of 20 of 313 FEMA "disasters," one-fourth of all that was paid out was inappropriately spent.

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    Re: Newspaper Series: FEMA: A Legacy of Waste (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:03:59 PM EST
    My offer of a better lede: 'The Bush Administration's first FEMA chief complained that FEMA was an "oversized entitlement program." Under their leadership, FEMA became one. Eliminating disaster management in favor of massive, runaway insurance fraud, they made sure that the levees of federal cash broke wide open.'

    Re: Newspaper Series: FEMA: A Legacy of Waste (none / 0) (#2)
    by Aaron on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:04:01 PM EST
    I know the SunSentinel and the people who work there, it's a top-notch organization and the only news provider in South Florida that hasn't been co-opted by partisanship. It is in fact the only reliable news provider in South Florida. They do some really great investigative journalism. If you want a straight poop about what's happening in South Florida, it's the only place to get it.