The Federal Emergency Management Agency is asking a group of elderly New Yorkers whose lives were ravaged by Hurricane Sandy to return thousands of dollars in aid it gave them after the storm, the Associated Press reports. Evidently, the victims spent the cash in a manner inconsistent with FEMA's guidelines.
Last week, a chemical company poisoned a major West Virginia water supply so thoroughly that FEMA has been dispatched to clean things up.
Gawker's Max Rivlin-Nadler goes deep on Americorps for The Nation: "AmeriCorps is at once a real opportunity and a symptom of austerity. Its members are either being offered a pathway to a career—or they’re being used to lower the cost of social services for a government devoted to budget-cutting. Or, more likely, both."
On August 31, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, FEMA public affairs officer Marty Bahamonde emailed his boss, then-FEMA chief Michael Brown, to make sure he understood how dire the situation had become in the Superdome, the New Orleans football stadium that was housing thousands of evacuees. "[T]he situation is past critical," he wrote in one of several emails he'd sent colleagues outlining the emergency. "We are out of food and running out of water." The stadium was overcrowded and undersupplied; there had already been three deaths, and Bahamonde expected more to die "within hours."
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.— On October 30, the day after Superstorm Sandy soaked thousands of homes with a two-story surge of seawater, housewares, and sludge, America's would-be first lady tried to unite a nation her husband spent the previous year helping to divide. Sporting a fire-engine red windbreaker, flanked by election banners and carefully arranged FedEx boxes marked "storm relief," Ann Romney asked a room of swing-state campaign workers to put aside partisan allegiances and perform one "very easy" task: "What I've been tweeting out is to contact [the] American Red Cross," she instructed—either donating via text message, or dropping off blankets and water that would be sent to the national organization. And she had company on that politically neutral ground. The same day, President Obama dropped by the American Red Cross' white-columned national headquarters in Washington to volunteer, in part by manning its official Twitter account. In the days after, the president continued to stress that "supporting the Red Cross is the best and fastest way" to provide aid.
As many on the East Coast prepare for whatever wreck and ruin Sandy has in store, wouldn't it be nice to know that the government too is preparing to provide relief to those most affected by the aftermath? Which is why it might be useful to know that under Romney/Ryan, the answer to that question would be "absolutely" nothing.
The congressional dispute over how to replenish FEMA's disaster relief coffers — which, if not resolved by September 30, could shut down the government — will resume on Monday. Go enjoy a national park while you still can! How about the Washington Monument? Oh, nevermind, the earthquake cracked that sucker good. In that case, do whatever the hell you want.
As we speak, Hurricane Irene (upgraded from "tropical storm" this morning and the first Atlantic hurricane of the season) is ravaging the Caribbean. So obviously, the next question on your mind must be, "But how are local celebrities doing?" The New York Post will have you know that Kate Winslet narrowly escaped a fire at Richard Branson's private isle in the British Virgin Islands. Branson's guests all got out safely, but his home, office, and "thousands of photographs" were "completely destroyed."
The tornado-ravaged citizens of Cordova, Alabama — about 35 miles northwest of Birmingham, pop. 2000 — have lost everything after a series of monster twisters tore through their town on April 27th. With nowhere to turn, scores of newly homeless residents were relieved when FEMA came along with a caravan of single-wide mobile homes they could use as shelter. Not so fast: Mayor Jack Scott has declared that single-wide mobile homes are illegal in Cordova.
Although not as hardcore as the British hacker that did his work over 56k, another hacker should be commended for his ability to hijack FEMA phone systems and make $12,000 worth of free phone calls this weekend. The Department of Homeland Security was apparently upgrading FEMA's voicemail system with outdated Private Branch Exchange (PBX) technology but failed to configure the security settings properly. The phreak was able to exploit a vulnerability and use Homeland Security's own phones to ring up countries like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Which all proves that Michael Chertoff was right to fear the power hackers have over inept government bureaucracies. [AP] (Photo by gthills)
Apparently Bay Ridge is the new Ninth Ward! "Two months after a tornado ripped through southwestern Brooklyn, a sign with 'Vacate' in red letters still hung from the front door last week, keeping Ashraf Eshra and his family from moving back in.... 'The mayor's office came, FEMA came, and nothing happened,' Mr. Eshra said. 'FEMA said we can do nothing until you get settlement from insurance.'" [NYT]