House chairman criticizes FEMA’s Louisiana flood response

House chairman criticizes FEMA’s Louisiana flood response
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A House panel is investigating the federal government’s emergency response to last year’s historic flooding in Louisiana.

The House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzThe myth of the conservative bestseller Elijah Cummings, Democratic chairman and powerful Trump critic, dies at 68 House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records MORE (R-Utah), asked in a Thursday letter for information and documents from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) related to programs that were central to its recovery efforts after the floods.

The panel is looking specifically at the manufactured housing units the agency deployed — popularly known as FEMA trailers — and a federally funded program to provide temporary repairs so people could stay in their homes.


“The committee continues to learn of high levels of dissatisfaction from survivors and local officials regarding FEMA’s recovery efforts,” Chaffetz wrote adding that he and his staff found persistent issues regarding “poor communication, high FEMA point of contact turnover, and inconsistencies in recovery amounts disbursed to survivors.”

The panel’s staff found that the trailers cost $340,000 for 18 months of use, more than many of the Louisiana residents’ own homes.

When committee staff visited the flooded area in August, only one person was living in a trailer, but 110 trailers were in a storage lot, and the agency had a national inventory of 1,300, the panel’s letter said.

Additionally, a man died in a trailer where the air conditioning was not working and the temperature had risen to nearly 138 degrees.

The state’s Shelter at Home program provides for up to $15,000 in temporary repairs, but the committee is concerned about “a pattern of dissatisfaction” among beneficiaries, including shoddy repair work and some residents not returning to their repaired homes.

Chaffetz is asking for numerous classes of documents related to the trailer program and the state’s repair program, including requests for assistance, records of complaints and payouts.