Haggling holds up $1B in Katrina relief

NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Bickering is holding up almost $1 billion in Hurricane Katrina relief from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, The Washington Post reports.

While the storm hit three states one year ago, most of the disputed funds center on New Orleans, devastated by flooding after levees gave way.


One example the newspaper cited was the removal of 3,000 dead trees in the city. FEMA said because the trees were not on an angle suggesting they were felled by winds, they couldn't have been killed by the storm. After time-consuming exchanges during which city officials explained the trees had stood in brackish water for weeks and died, FEMA relented.

Daniel Craig, who stepped down last October as head of FEMA's recovery division and is now consulting for New Orleans, said the agency should not be in the business of thrift.

"Disasters should be difficult to declare. But once you get them, FEMA should not worry about cutting costs," Craig said. "Public entities are eligible for everything they have lost due to the disaster. It is not up to FEMA to cut corners or makes sure money is saved."


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