FEMA Trailer Auction Should Be Stopped

WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–January 13, 2010.  Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement regarding news that mobile homes and trailers from Hurricane Katrina are being auctioned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

“FEMA’s current endeavor to dispose of trailers through the GSA auction process is an effort to remedy several Post-Katrina mistakes by the previous administration. FEMA’s mistakes with trailers have run the gamut—from failing to assess need before placing orders; routine over-payment for standard trailers; improper storage of trailers awaiting placement, and overpayment for maintenance and security at trailer storage sites. Each of these mistakes was caused by reaction to a previous problem. Yet at each step along the way, I asked FEMA to develop a cogent and cost effective disaster housing strategy that defines needs, sets forth actions, and involves input from state and local governments. At every stage, I have reminded FEMA that short-term plans may well lead to long-term headaches. Therefore, it is regretful that we are once again at a similar junction.

FEMA’s recent decision to simultaneously dispose of over 100,000 trailers in Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas may be borne of good intentions to recoup taxpayer funds. However, it is not an alternative without consequence.

The mass disposal of these trailers through public auction is troubling. Although marked with legal disclaimers, it is no secret that these trailers may contain mold, formaldehyde and other potentially hazardous substances. A legal disclaimer will not prevent harm to a child who inhales formaldehyde or mold.

We must safeguard the expenditure of taxpayer funds. However, the bottom line cannot be the only factor in decision-making. I am requesting that FEMA suspend this massive disposal sale and instead implement a program that allows the sale of these trailers to occur in small lots and only to state, local or non-profit entities who will remediate the harmful substances and return them to useful service housing the homeless.”