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This page contains a single entry by Westley Annis published on January 19, 2009 2:18 PM.

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Landrieu Comments on Late-Night Release Of National Disaster Housing Strategy

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WASHINGTON - United States Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., today made the following comments about yesterday's late-night release of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Disaster Housing Strategy (NDHS). In July, FEMA released a version of the NDHS -- 13 months after the legal deadline by which it was required -- with significant shortcomings. In particular, an analysis of the NDHS revealed seven completely blank annexes, and that FEMA had yet to identify a reliable alternative for housing a substantial number of evacuees from large-scale catastrophes such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the federal levee failures that followed.

Sen. Landrieu made these remarks:

"They have a saying in Washington to describe the release of bad news on a Friday evening -- they call it 'taking out the trash.'

"Last night at 10 p.m., FEMA notified my staff that it would finally release a version of the National Disaster Housing Strategy (NDHS) complete with the seven annexes that were missing when they initially released the report in July. At 10:21 p.m., the strategy was released.

"I am disappointed that in the final hours of its term, this administration waited until the Friday night before Martin Luther King, Jr., Day and the Inaugural ceremony to release a report that is so critical to enabling FEMA to handle catastrophic disasters. It is as if they hoped they could release the report without anyone noticing.

"My staff is reviewing the document to see that it is consistent with the legal requirements set out in the Post Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA). Already, the staff has found that Annex Six, in which FEMA was required to list any new authorities it needs to improve its performance, remains completely blank. We are still reviewing the rest of the document.

"I will say this; we do not know when the next catastrophe will strike. The complete Strategy was required by law to be submitted to Congress in July of 2007. A year and a half has now passed since that deadline was missed, and a year and a half more time wasted before FEMA is fully prepared to handle a catastrophic housing crisis. I intend to call FEMA before the Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery to publicly examine the NDHS and ensure that it meets legal requirements. And, as we head into a new administration, I am prepared to work with Secretary-designate Napolitano and other leaders to ensure that FEMA will be stronger and better prepared than ever."

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