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Hurricane relief funds at issue

February 17, 2009
The Daily Mining Gazette

During the immediate aftermath of devastation caused in Gulf Coast states by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, federal disaster relief officials were criticized roundly for their alleged failures. Now they are under fire again, more than three and one-half years later, for alleged delays in spending relief money.

About $3.9 billion in federal hurricane relief money has not been spent yet, it was reported last week. That prompted local and state officials - primarily in Louisiana - to condemn federal administration of the program.

Clearly, Congress should investigate the Federal Emergency Management Agency's long-term relief programs.

But just as clearly, it needs to do so objectively. Many taxpayers remember that as the facts started coming in after Katrina and Rita struck, it became apparent that local and state governments shared blame with FEMA for mistakes in how they responded.

Obviously, local and state governments play important roles in handling federal disaster relief money. Taxpayers need to know why - or even if - the process has been delayed unnecessarily.



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