‘I just want to slap them upside the head’

This awesome quote comes from Bill Stallworth, the head of the organization where I work, in a CNN article about FEMA‘s misallocation of supplies intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina. I’ve also worked with the two ladies from Coastal Women for Change who are quoted in the article.

It’s an interesting story, and one which implies three things: First, insufficient relationships with local organizations — word of the need for the supplies should have made it to FEMA much sooner. Second, dysfunctional communication within FEMA — those who did know about the need didn’t pass the message to the people in charge. And third, a shortsighted and incompetent bureaucracy — one which kept little track of the supplies and allowed the state to put saving money ahead of helping people.

‘Supplies for Katrina victims went to Mississippi agencies’

Last month, CNN revealed that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had stored $85 million worth of household items in warehouses for two years. Instead of giving the supplies to victims of the 2005 hurricane, FEMA declared them surplus and gave them all away to federal agencies and 16 states in February.


Stallworth and other community leaders said if they had known the FEMA items were available, they would have begged for them.

“And when I hear people stand up and just beat their chest and say we’ve got everything under control, that’s when I just want to slap them upside the head and say, ‘Get a grip, get a life,’ ” said Stallworth, who is also a Biloxi city councilman. (Read more…)

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