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FEMA blamed for slow housing response to Ike

Law Reviews     updated  2008/10/18 03:44

Thousands remain homeless weeks after Hurricane Ike lashed the Texas coast because of what the state calls a federal "bureaucratic logjam" slowing the delivery of temporary housing.

Frustrated officials in areas flattened by Ike are also piling blame on the Federal Emergency Management Agency as families continue living in tents and sleeping in cars more than a month after the storm.

Michael Gerber, executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community affairs, acknowledges a "serious housing crisis" is facing several thousand people in hard-hit areas.

Gerber and county officials hold FEMA responsible.

"FEMA keeps telling us that they've got a process to deploy temporary housing. But in four weeks, they've deployed fewer than a hundred that are occupied," Gerber told the Houston Chronicle.

He estimated several thousand more are needed across the region, particularly in Chambers, Orange, Jefferson and Galveston counties.

FEMA spokesman Dan Martinez said one of the main reasons for the delay has been "availability of sites" for manufactured homes or trailers. He said FEMA must be assured the sites have available utilities and sometimes waivers to locate them in a flood plain.

He said meetings are being held daily to work out these issues. But Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said he is tired of what he calls "excuses."

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