Monday, July 24, 2006

Remember the disaster relief calamity last year in New Orleans? Well, the Republicans do, and they're doing something about it:

The Department of Homeland Security, responding to months of criticism and ridicule, is revamping several of its core disaster relief programs, enacting changes that will include sharply cutting emergency cash assistance for victims of major disasters, and more carefully controlling access to free hotel rooms.

Immediate emergency aid would not exceed $500 under the new rules, instead of the $2,000 per family previously allowed. And it would be handed out only after identities and addresses were checked. Such precautions were not taken consistently last year after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, an oversight auditors said led to fraud and abuse of up to $1.4 billion.

So, those shocking scenes from the Superdome, the Convention Center, and Louisiana highways, where thousands of people not affected by the storm at all showed up to take advantage of the ample free food, water, and lodging in air-conditioned comfort --- those won't be repeated.

"It seems to be working out very well for them", said Barbara Bush, gazing at thousands of people basking in the luxury of a cot on a a few spare feet at the bottom of the Astrodome, days later. Well, that won't happen again. What a relief.

By the way, remember all those folks who we're not supposed to call "refugees", who got sent hither and yon on jetliners to remote places which I guess we're not supposed to call "refugee camps" --- am I the only person who's creeped out by how completely they've vanished from the national discourse? Just asking...


Anonymous Raymond said...

Perfectly consistent with their behavior throughout this mess. As I pointed out to a number of friends during the Superdome-sanitation-and-lawlessness debacle, the official response (make them stay inside and wait for buses) is more concerned with maintaining order than saving lives or aliviating suffering.

FEMA, from it's inception, and now as a part of DHS, is run by people with security backgrounds. Those people, by nature and training, are terrified of disorder and will seek to control it first and foremost. Real disaster relief professionals (such as work for the ICRC) accept chaos as part of the deal and learn to work with it.

4:53 PM  

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