Trump Regime

Report: FEMA Failed in Puerto Rico Before Hurricane Maria Hit

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

What we already know about the Trump regime's response to Hurricane Maria's devastation of Puerto Rico tell us their gross negligence and incompetence -- and perhaps even indifference -- contributed to the island's suffering and their death toll, but the Trump regime's failure began even before the storm made landfall.

Records reviewed by NPR and PBS show that FEMA was critically unprepared even before the storm arrived.

Moreover, it appears FEMA officials actually lied to local officials about their level of preparedness.

FEMA's regional administrator Thomas Von Essen told local mayors that the agency had 500 backup generators on the island before the storm hit, but that wasn't even close to true. And that's not all.

"There are 50,000 more blue tarps coming in over the next week," [Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan ] said. "So these will all get pushed to all the mayors."

Von Essen added that FEMA had as many as 500 generators on the island before the storm and would soon distribute them. [...]

Internal briefing documents show FEMA never had 500 generators on the island before the storm — it had 25. Its plastic roof program was out of plastic, and the most tarps FEMA ever produced was 125,000 — months after people needed them.

Records reviewed by NPR and PBS also show that FEMA's effort to deliver plastic roofing and tarps to the island was a clusterfuck of successive failures.

One contractor hired by Trump's FEMA even brought in shitty tarps from China which is actually illegal.

First, records show, FEMA hired a company that was just two months old. It didn't provide a single tarp. Then FEMA chose a company whose last contract had been for $4,000 worth of kitchen utensils for a prison. It didn't produce a single tarp either.

Finally, FEMA turned to a third company, called Master Group. Its specialty, according to its website, is importing hookah tobacco. It produced some tarps, but when employees examined them in a warehouse in January, FEMA says, the tarps failed a quality-control inspection.

Import records examined by NPR and Frontline show the company brought the tarps in from China, which violates federal contracting rules. After NPR and Frontline questioned FEMA about this, the agency suspended the company.

I completely agree with those who've called for opening a wider investigation or creating a commission to give a full accounting of Trump's response to Hurricane Maria. This is one case in which creating a select congressional committee to investigate would actually be warranted. This would be an investigation of real events with real consequences, unlike the GOP's committees that have investigated phantoms of the right wing's imagination.

Of course that will only be possible if Democrats retake control of at least one chamber of Congress, so you better vote this November.

Hurricane season official began last week and it's within the realm of possibility that this disaster will repeat itself this year.

  • ninjaf

    I would not doubt that there was not some sort of political test applied to award contracts. It certainly sounds like they would take anybody so long as you had proof of a MAGA purchase prior to November 8, 2016.

    • Georgie

      Or blood oath, fuck trump.

  • muselet

    Jesus wept.

    Want to make a government entity fail at basic tasks and lie about it? Put Rs in charge.

    In an ideal world, everyone in a position of administrative authority at FEMA before and during Hurricane Maria would be facing indictments in addition to congressional investigations. We do not, alas, live in an ideal world.

    –alopecia

  • I’m really hoping that the season is mild. How many more people have to die under Trumpov’s administration. Mueller needs to hurry up.