Sunday, July 22, 2007

FEMA Tells Toxic Trailer Residents to "Open The Windows"

I have started a petition asking the Committee on Oversight & Government Reform to recommend that FEMA Executives be charged with criminal negligence and conspiring to endanger public safety.

and the following articles are the reason why.

excerpt from

AlterNet: Blogs: PEEK: FEMA Administrator Forced to Appear Before Congress

David Paulison, the Administrator of FEMA, was made to answer for the toxic tin cans in which FEMA has housed thousands of victims of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters.

Residents of the toxic trailers came to Capitol Hill to testify about the horrors they have endured while living in the toxic tins cans.  Lindsay Huckabee, a mother of three, recalled tearfully how her children's health problems were so extensive and frequent that she has become desensitized to seeing her daughter covered in blood from her daily nosebleeds.  She also testified that every baby born to residents of her FEMA trailer park since Katrina has become asthmatic.  Paul Stewart testified that FEMA "treated him like a criminal" and attempted to replace his toxic trailer with a used, dirty trailer replete with a bed full of bugs.  Following this incident, he was forced to sleep in his truck over the weekend because FEMA could only deal with him come Monday.  Eventually he spent $50,000 of his own money to buy a formaldehyde-free trailer.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), scolded Paulison, telling him that FEMA's lawyers "need some adult supervision."  Paulison then refused to apologize to the victims when directly asked to do so, repeatedly citing uncertainty over whether formaldehyde was really the cause of their problems.

The Sierra Club's April 2006 tests first brought attention to the problem, something Paulison acknowledged was a "wake-up call."  Of course this wake-up call hasn't actually prompted FEMA to take any substantive action -- other than lawyering-up and then telling hurricane victims to simply open their windows.

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A recent article reported that, "Following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA doled out over 120,000 mobile homes to residents of the Gulf Coast. Many of those trailers have walls and cabinets made up of particleboard, which contains formaldehyde that can sometimes emit gas in hot, humid weather such as that found in Louisiana and Mississippi. The effect on humans (especially children) range from "burning sensations in the eyes, nose, and throat; nausea; coughing; chest tightness; wheezing; skin rashes and allergic reactions." As early as March 2006, FEMA began to receive complaints about formaldehyde odors.

After one trailer was tested, an April 2006 e-mail sent from a FEMA attorney to another staffer concluded, "The end result %u2014 well above OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards... Tester himself developed eye-watering symptoms of exposure." Yet, in response to complaints, FEMA's legal department advised that testing "would imply FEMA's ownership of the issue." Another read, 'Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK... Should [tests] indicate some problem, the clock is running on our duty to respond to them.' "

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Thank you

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