The Rise & Fall Of FEMA

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Thursday, June 22, 2006

Now, it doesn't take much for me to become upset...but it takes a lot to make me burn with disgust...

FEMA handed out credit cards to those poor people who were impacted by Hurricanes Katrina & Rita. These cards were earmarked for housing and other necessities. Millions sent in aid and went to help to ease the suffering of these people. Billions of dollars were pledged to bring assistance and to help with the rebuilding.

  • an all-inclusive, one-week Caribbean vacation in the Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic.
  • five season tickets to New Orleans Saints professional football games.
  • adult erotica products in Houston and "Girls Gone Wild" videos in Santa Monica, Calif.
  • Dom Perignon champagne and other alcoholic beverages in San Antonio.
  • a divorce lawyer's services in Houston
These are just some of the items a Congressional audit revealed were bought with the credit cards. As a matter of fact, $1.4 billion on items that were not classified as housing or necessities.

In another instance, FEMA paid an individual $2,358 in rental assistance, while at the same time paying about $8,000 for the same person to stay 70 nights at more than $100 per night in a Hawaii hotel. A hotel in Hawaii???

FEMA also could not establish that 750 debit cards worth $1.5 million even went to Katrina victims, the auditors said. This one really ticks me off.


"Our forensic audit and investigative work showed that improper and potentially fraudulent payments occurred mainly because FEMA did not validate the identity of the registrant, the physical location of the damaged address, and ownership and occupancy of all registrants at the time of registration," GAO officials said.

FEMA paid millions of dollars to more than 1,000 registrants who used names and Social Security numbers belonging to state and federal prisoners for expedited housing assistance. The inmates were in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

FEMA made about $5.3 million in payments to registrants who provided a post office box as their damaged residence, including one who got $2,748 for listing an Alabama post office box as the damaged property.

One person used 13 different Social Security numbers (including their own) to collect over $139,000 in payments and all the checks went to ONE ADDRESS. Who the hell is watching the cash register here folks?

Another classless dreg used a damaged property address located in a New Orleans cemetery. This person has never lived in New Orleans and FEMA sent the check to their West Virginia address..the address they had been living at for the past five years.

FEMA, of course, is saying these figures and information are not accurate. They say they have identified 1,500 cases of potential fraud, estimated at $16.5 million. The GAO says it is 95% confident those figures are closer to $600 million to $1.4 billion.

What I say is that every single one of these people needs to be hunted down and found. When we do find them, they need to have their bank accounts emptied of every penny. Then they need to be placed on work details and sent into the hurricane ravaged area and work to make up for all the money they embezzled. $20.00/hour, until you repay every single penny of the money you stole from us all. I totally agree with Representative Michael McCaul, who is chair of the House Homeland Securities investigations subcommittee who stated "This is an insult to the victims of Katrina."

The real tragedy here is what has happened to an organization that was truly on it's way to being a shining star in our government. FEMA was born in 1979 as a result of combining a number of agencies that had been functioning independently and without coordination to protect the country in times of natural disasters and nuclear holocaust. In the early years FEMA grew and things fell into place as it developed responses to large-scale disasters and setting in place "continuity of government" contingencies.

Many local town, city and state governments began following their example, converting their civil defense programs to disaster programs and setting up programs to conserve resources by producing plans that were meant to cover many different types of situations.

In 1993, President Clinton named James Lee Witt as head of FEMA, responding to the devastation of Hurricane Andrew in Florida. Witt was the first real professional emergency manager to run the agency and he was determined to run the organization like a well-oiled machine. Witt reoriented FEMA from civil defense preparations to a focus on natural disaster preparedness and disaster mitigation. In an effort to reduce the repeated loss of property and lives every time a disaster struck, he started a disaster mitigation effort called "Project Impact." FEMA was elevated to a Cabinet-level agency, in recognition of its important responsibilities coordinating efforts across departmental and governmental lines.

Witt fought for more and more government funding, and did wonders with the $20 million they were receiving at it's height. One of the best examples of the impact the program had was in protecting people at the time of the Nisqually earthquake on Feb. 28, 2001 in the Seattle, Washington area. Homes had been retrofitted for earthquakes and schools were protected from high-impact structural hazards. Those involved with "Project Impact" thought it ironic that the day of that quake was also the day that the then-new President, George W. Bush, chose to announce that "Project Impact" would be discontinued.

The management team at FEMA was replaced by cronies...people with little or no disaster response background. Joe Allbaugh was named the head of FEMA. His credentials? Well he was G.W. Bush's Chief of Staff when he was Governor of Texas and his national campaign manager during the 2000 elections...OH YEAH baby! Just the right credentials to run an agency like FEMA. Allbaugh immediately downsized the agency and shifted the focus from disaster response to terrorism response. Projects were abandoned and the agency seems to have become a good resting place for those owed favors by the administration. Upon leaving FEMA in 2002 Allbaugh formed a company called New Bridge Strategies, a consulting firm advising companies looking for reconstruction contracts in Iraq, AFTER the upcoming invasion occurred!

His first hire at FEMA? His long-time friend, Michael Brown as general council...yes, THAT Michael Brown. The man in charge of FEMA when Katrina hit.

Now, FEMA is being absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security and is losing all of it's abilities to make a contribution in the event of another disaster.

Makes you feel nice and safe, doesn't it kids?!?!?!?

I am still calling on all of you to help stop Malaria in Africa: - SEND YOUR $10.00
As a sports nut, nets means so many things.. in this case, it means LIFE.
If enough people do this, we can wipe malaria off the map. What does $10 do? It buys special netting to be used over the beds of children. Nets coated with insecticide costs between $4 and $6, so with shipping, you get to $10.
I know, you are saying..sure I send in $10 and $9 goes to administration costs and $1 to a net. WRONG!
Seems Ted Turner donated $1 BILLION to create the U.N. Foundation, which covers all overhead. Andrea Gay, the U.N. Foundations Director of Children's Health says "every cent goes to buy nets."

To use some of Rick Reilly's column in Sports Illustrated: "If you are a coach. parent. player, gym teacher or even just a fan who likes watching balls fly into nets, send $20. You saved a life, take the rest of the day off.
You ever have a net in your driveway, front lawn or on your head at McDonald's, send $20. You ever imagined Angelina Jolie in fishnets, send $20."

The address is: UNFoundation.org/malaria. Then just look for the big SI's Nothing But Net logo (or call 202.887.9040) and donate $20.

Keep that spark of insanity kids...It helps keep you an individual.

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3 Of Your Sparks

  1. robsg1rl Says:
  2. Living in AL, I am well aware of what FEMA pledges to do vs. actually doing. My oldest is in S. AL right now on a mission trip, helping Katrina victims. Her quote, "Mom, it's looks like that hurricane hit just a couple of weeks ago." She's in the middle of an inhabitable area. Close your eyes and point at the map....you'll locate exactly where she is.

    Democratic changing of the guard, anyone????

     
  3. Angell Says:
  4. WOW - that's insane. I can't believe that the extent of the fraud that was occuring, and NO ONE picked up on it until now?? Those cards should have been monitored, and for God's sake - why wasn't there a system in place to identify when someone got sent a cheque?

    I am now THOROUGHLY disgusted with mankind in general....

     
  5. Sparky Duck Says:
  6. yep your right, I did appreciate it. How stupid do you have to be to question the GAO by the way, its like the best of the best accountant wise!

    Nice of people to figure out a loophole for the Dom and some Girls Gone wild.

    Hey, I mentioned Nets for Nets in the 50 K meme

     

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