Friday, October 06, 2006

FEMA and Mental Illness

New post at Katrina Refrigerator here. I have been so lucky that so many kept all the emails. I think thanks to their lists that I've found two that I missed. I want to thank all of them who responded to my email asking them to search their files. Interesting though that I didn't write anything for 10 days last year. I do remember being tired, and I was spending an awful lot of time trying to get the FEMA/Red Cross stuff figured out.

Meanwhile, here in our real world, FEMA still looms large, or small, depending on how you look at it.


On Wednesday, upon signing the Homeland Security funding bill, President Bush said:

Bush's signing statement Wednesday challenges several other provisions in the Homeland Security spending bill.

Bush, for example, said he'd disregard a requirement that the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency must have at least five years experience and "demonstrated ability in and knowledge of emergency management and homeland security."

His rationale was that it "rules out a large portion of those persons best qualified by experience and knowledge to fill the office."

That was found in an AP story filed today. Strange rationale, in my humble opinion, but there you have it.

Loki, over at Humid City (see blogroll), has heard the same rumors I have with regard to some folks who were given emergency relief last year by FEMA suddenly receiving letters dunning them for repayment. These are regular folks, mind you. Honest, non-fraud committing people who were never expecting to be told that the money that magically appeared in their bank accounts (not in ours, but for some that's how it showed up---a magical direct deposit into their bank accounts) would have to be paid back. In fact, in looking over all the mountains and reams of paper from FEMA, I've never seen anything at all that even intimated that any "help" they gave was a loan as opposed to an emergency help grant. While neither Loki nor I have actually seen one of these dun letters, the people I'm hearing this from are credible, so I have no doubt that one will be seen in the flesh, so to speak, soon. (If anyone out there got one of these letters, please scan it and email it to me.)

Oh yeah, and now FEMA has gotten into the mental health business. Yeah, you heard me right. Mental health issues in New Orleans are reaching critical mass--too few beds, too few doctors, no safety net. So FEMA put together this program, (the Times-Picayune article is here,) which will allow "debriefing" but no doctors, no treatment. I'm not kidding. Read the article for yourself, it's astonishing.

So down the road, should there be another catastrophe here or in your city, please be prepared. 1. The next head of FEMA, if chosen by our illustrious President, is required to have experience but the Prez might choose to disregard that in the interest of getting an experienced person in there. (It really is a most bizarre statement!) 2. If you get emergency money from FEMA, make absolutely sure that it's not a loan because it could be unbeknownst to you as you wade through the paperwork and the trauma. 3. If you are traumatized by the event, or by your dealings with FEMA, you can probably be debriefed a year later, but please do not expect any money to be forthcoming to your city for actual treatment.

I'm just sayin'.

No comments: