FEMA Takes Another Hit

FEMA travel trailers at a staging area, Selma, Alabama, 2005/10/11 AP

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Just when you thought it was time to start feeling sorry for FEMA, we read in today's New York Times that because of bungling or sheer incompetence FEMA's efforts to put hurricane evacuees in temporary housing — read that tents or trailers or apartments — is going so poorly that the agency has decided to go ahead and spend $11 million a day to put people in motel rooms.

A motel has got to be better than a shelter, but how much better and for how long? Femas bought trailers by the thousands — the folks who have gotten them are plenty grateful.

It seems though there are just too many t's to cross and i's to dot to make this work right. Maybe if there were a hurricane czar these well meaning, but bureaucracy bound FEMA workers could just say: "Can we skip this form?" And he'd say, "Yep."

I spoke with a mayor in the hurricane zone this week who told me quite frankly he doesn't count on FEMA anymore for anything.



Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

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