Friday, February 15, 2008

There’s Formaldehyde In The Double-Wide

Note to Tennessee tornado survivors: you might want to think twice before accepting the gift of housing from FEMA.

After initially denying any health risk existed, the government has finally admitted that those FEMA trailers housing thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors are contaminated with toxic formaldehyde.

But it gets worse. Despite this, FEMA says it will continue to distribute these trailers to Tennessee and Arkansas tornado survivors.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday it will distribute mobile homes to victims of last week's tornadoes in Arkansas and Tennessee, despite a health warning about high formaldehyde levels in other trailers, officials said Thursday.

James McIntyre, a FEMA spokesman, said the agency would begin to process mobile homes stored at the Hope airport for distribution to victims of the Feb. 5 storms. McIntyre said FEMA will not be "putting anything on hold."

In Atlanta earlier Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced some trailers had levels of formaldehyde that were nearly 40 times customary exposure levels. The CDC urged that Gulf Coast hurricane victims living in government-owned trailers move out.

This is bizarre, since on Thursday, the Dept. of Homeland Security said it was dumping the trailers:

On Capitol Hill today, Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff said he's throwing in the towel on trailers.

"We are out of the trailer business, we are no longer going to provide trailers for people," said Chertoff.

Apparently Mr. Chertoff needs to communicate better with FEMA.

So why on earth are we asking those made homeless by last week’s tornadoes to move into these things? Apparently, to prove a point about government efficiency:

The decision to use some of the mobile homes for Arkansas and Tennessee twister victims comes after requests by state officials and members of Arkansas' congressional delegation, who have criticized the unused homes in the past as a sign of federal ineptitude after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe, said he was not aware of the CDC finding Thursday. DeCample said the governor's office likely wouldn't have that much of a say in how the mobile homes were distributed.

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jeremy Heidt said FEMA officials assured them any mobile homes shipped to his state would be tested.

"We're convinced they're safe," Heidt said.

Oh really?

I’m going to predict that these trailers are not going anywhere and won’t house anyone. Just a guess.