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April 29th, 2008
10:34 AM ET

They gave him money to fix his house. Now they want it back.

New Orleans residents affected by Katrina may have to pay back the money they were given in grants.
New Orleans residents affected by Katrina may have to pay back the money they were given in grants.

 

Randi Kaye
360° Correspondent

Every time I go to do a story in New Orleans I hold onto a little piece of hope that things are going to be better this time.

That the community is going to be more healed, that the town is going to look more alive, and that the programs put in place to help homeowners are actually doing so.

Well, I should have known better.

Imagine this: Louisiana residents – after all they’ve been through and all they’ve lost – are now being billed by the state for nearly $200 million!

Yes – you read that right, $200 million.

Why? Well – it turns out the contractor hired by the state to dole out federal dollars designed to help homeowners rebuild... uh... well... how do I say this... OVERESTIMATED!!

The contractor, ICF International, may have overpaid as many as 5000 residents. In other words, the state gave these people too much grant money after state inspectors estimated home damages.

In all, homeowners could be asked to pay up $175 million. Some families could be on the hook for $150,000 each!

I interviewed a New Orleans man named John Montegut who had spent about $100,000 repairing his home. About $20,000 of it was from a state grant, part of that federally funded Road Home program to aid homeowners. Well, he just got a bill in the mail for $13,000 from the state telling him they’d overestimated his grant payment.

How’d that happen? Montegut told me the state’s inspector included in his damage claim the repair of six skylights (he doesn’t have any skylights!!) and the replacement of 22 windows which were far above the water levels and completely unharmed. Montegut says the inspector was in his house for five minutes and he was not allowed to see the damage claim so had no way of knowing what was included.

Here’s the killer: Montegut doesn’t have the money to pay the state. He spent that money fixing up his house. But he and every other homeowner who got a grant signed a contract with ICF agreeing to pay money back if overpayments were later discovered. Now remember, he wasn’t even allowed to see his paperwork. Montegut told me he never expected he’d owe the state money. But it turns out the actual cost of repairing his house was far greater than the grant anyway.

The contractor, ICF, told us it is a federally funded program and the state is demanding that it ask for repayments. ICF is promising a “compassionate process” and says it doesn’t expect a large number of families to be affected but we’ve learned from an advocate for the homeowners about 300 families have already been billed. The state plans to fine ICF for its mistakes and it plans to hire an auditor to review every case.

Is it cruel, as homeowners have said, to ask residents for money back after all their suffering following Hurricane Katrina? Or, as resident John Montegut told me, “They (ICF) made mistakes all along, why should people suffer?” What do you think? We'd like to know.

Program Note: See Randi Kaye's “Keeping them Honest” report on AC360 tonight at 10pm.

 

soundoff (601 Responses)
  1. Pat

    This certainly is an example of the "plumber's law" (all **** travels down.) I think that the effected residents should file a class action suit against ICF International. I would explore the possibility if I were in their position.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  2. Rebecca

    I appreciate the continual coverage of the ongoing aftermath of Katrina. My family's home in Ocean Springs, MS, was badly damaged and I know firsthand the hell that it was to go through the recovery process. Between post-shock depression and grief, you have to sit on the slab of your foundation everyday, on the phone trying to get a hold of someone (often at the state level) who can help you go through the process correctly. I can't imagine adding in the factor of that person on the other end of the phone asking you for $15,000 when it cost $100,000 to rebuild your house! The fact that it is nearly 3 years later and the government still can't figure out the correct way to handle this situation is appalling.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm |
  3. Benjamin

    Actually, I worked for ICF for several years, alongside a number of people working on the "Road Home" project in Louisiana. These are hard-working, intelligent people with the wellbeing of New Orleans residents first and foremost in mind, who work long hours and have spent months away from _their_ families to relocate in order to help Katrina victims.

    However, the process of assessing the damage to many thousands of sites and getting relief money out _as soon as possible_ is an extremely difficult task, and it is impossible to avoid making mistakes (even for a team as bright and talented as those ICF employees working on this project).

    I thought part of the 360-degree perspective Anderson Cooper was going for would involve actually talking to some of the employees of ICF who are trying to speed the post-Katrina recovery, but it turns out it makes a far more sensationalist story to simply paint ICF as the big, faceless, irresponsible bad guy instead of doing some investigative journalism, calling up some folks at the consultancy, talking to them about the difficulties involved, and writing a balanced piece about the epic challenges involved in getting Louisiana back on its feet.

    Looks like Anderson Cooper would rather just resort to tabloid-style, David-vs.-Goliath journalism, even if it's not at all an accurate or balanced portrayal of the facts. Too bad.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  4. Wanda

    I am not suprised about anything the goverment does. I have survived through Katrina and I know first hand what damage was done. I live in Mississippi, the forgotton Katrina victums. I still have damage that has not been repaired because the insurance did not pay enough even though I have replacement cost coverage. (By the way my claim had nothing to do with flooding or flood coverage). I applied for help from the goverment and was denied because I have insurance coverage. However, I personally know people that did not have as severage damage as I had who were given a large amount of money with no questions asked. Some of those people have insurance with the same insurance company as I do. So, if you expected anything the goverment to do to make sense; you apparently have never had to deal with them. I do feel that further investivation should be done on all who received this money. From what I have personally experienced; I beleive someone should investigate into where all that money went.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  5. Stephanie

    This would be a good opportunity for Brad Pitt and others who have been helping out in New Orleans to help these people out with their bills!

    April 29, 2008 at 1:31 pm |
  6. Roger

    It's illegal to not explain (or at least offer to explain) the details of most, if not all, contracts to the contractee. If it is not, the contractee has the right to refute all claims from the contract originator.

    Imagine selling insurance without being required to explain what the insured is covered for and the terms and limitations. That will get the insurance company in really hot water, just ask John Hancock or Metropolitan Life.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:30 pm |
  7. America Proctor

    It sounds like a scam to me. Intentionally WAY overestimate damages on some houses, and pay the money out. Later on, say you overestimated, and ask for the money back. Don't let residents see the estimate report, btw, so they won't find out that you're including, say, six skylights that don't even exist. But yes, say you overestimated, and ask for the money back so that in the end, you don't end up paying out quite as much. Sound far fetched? Not really. Anything to save a buck.. It wouldn't be the first time, and it won't be the last.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:30 pm |
  8. Brent

    So, the state is asking for them to give back the money they shouldn't have received in the first place? Sounds fair to me! As a taxpayer, why should I be the one stuck with the bill?

    April 29, 2008 at 1:30 pm |
  9. Sandra

    If ICF made the mistake, they should pay the state back. It was their error in estimating. Plain and simple.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  10. Niky Wooding

    I lived in New Orleans for a little over a year. The people there are like none other that I've ever met in my life. Despite the complete and utter chaos that the city has experience post-Katrina, the residents of New Orleans have nothing short of HOPE.
    Seeing the people stand in those ridiculously long lines for Road Home to rebuild and repair their lives is like nothing that I have ever seen before. What amazes me about this entire situation is that the state and city government put so much of the relief money into rebuilding the French Quarter, hotels, clubs, and casinos to put a band-aid on the city to raise money from tourists. But where is this money going? I mean, the tourists have come to 'major events' such as: Mardi Gras, All-Star Weekend, Essence Fest, Saints Games, Hornets Games, Jazz Fest, and the list goes on. But where has this tourism money that New Orleans "desperately needs" vanished to?
    It's almost as though the government is trying to mask the fact that outside of the h Quarter is still in complete and utter chaos. The major companies and businesses have relocated to the Northshore, while schools and hospitals remained chained and closed.
    How can anyone tell me that you can reinovate an entire "CBD: Central Business District", but will rape your own loyal and tax-paying citizens of their livelihood?
    Visitors may see houses that are still in shambles, compacted and reduced to FEMA trailers, but I see someone's Life. It's not fair to see these people suffer for THREE YEARS and have to overcome even more obstacles. Some say, that the answer is for New Orleans residents to leave New Orleans, LA.... I believe that the answer is the govenment needs to find priority within its people and no longer use band-aids to heal New Orleans' broken heart, and time to show its people some TLC.
    God bless the people of New Orleans.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  11. Kevin

    Sorry, but my sympathy for the people in and around New Orleans is about used up. If you recall in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, people were demanding immediate government assistance for the victims, and there was a rush to get money and supplies into the area to try and get things taken care of as quickly as possible. Any time the driving force behind government assistance/action is speed, errors and mistakes are guaranteed to happen, but again, at the time peoples' feelings were "get the help in and we'll figure it out later". Well, later for many of these programs is starting to arrive, and the people affected were aware that this day might in fact come (and I quote:"signed a contract with ICF agreeing to pay money back if overpayments were later discovered"). Now I'm expected to feel sorry for people that have to repay money they shoudn't have received? Not happening.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  12. yeller

    So these people didn't complain when they got too much money. Well guess what that money is MY money- that's my tax dollars and I want it back!! If your dense enough to live below sea level then you have to pay for it- I feel the same way about people who have beach houses.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  13. Sonja

    Not all of our city governments are the same. NOLA has always been horrible when it comes to their city government. Look at SWLA and how effective they were after RITA which was larger and stronger than KATRINA. The city officials in SWLA did an incredible job in helping their citizens. The state level government in La. has always been the joke of the nation – but thankfully with our new Gov. Jindall things are turning around.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm |
  14. Nick

    We should borrow a few million from Bush's Iraq venture to help pay for some of this.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm |
  15. Ben

    They built a city in a basin surrounded on three sides by water.

    A storm finally hit that exposed the threat and we all rush to make it right.

    I am as compassionate as everyone, but enough is enough.

    MOVE THEM!! DO NOT REBUILD!!

    Not a cent should be spent to rebuild. Not a cent should be spent for victims of fires in CA. Not a cent should be spent on anyone that built a house where the Mississippi ran before man moved it and the river decided to go back.

    If you build where nature is going to destroy, TOUGH!

    April 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm |
  16. John C. Macarthy

    This is so upsetting to read and Jesus knows I don't understand how in the world this country can continue to STOMP on CITIZENS of this country. Here you have people who have lost everthing. They put their trust in a GOVERNMENT approved organization and look what happens. When is the madiness going to end. Who was over seeing ICF when the estimates were made?

    April 29, 2008 at 1:27 pm |
  17. G.T.

    This may sound cruel but it is not intendend that way: I am getting tired of hearing about the aftermath of Katrina.

    I have lived in Florida all of my life. I have seen every hurricane to come through the state since 1962. But I've never seen a place as screwed up as New Orleans after Katrina. People forget that Katrina hit Florida Before it hit New Orlaeans. And the year before that Florida had FOUR Category 4 hurricanes in one season. I lost my proch roof, most of my main roof, a fence and a tree to one of them. Lots of folks had worse. It took time but we recovered.

    After watching and reading about how the people reacted to this hurricane it's no wonder they are in the shape that they are in. This extends from the top to the bottom: From the people who were told to evacuate and didn't to the State and City government who were unprepared, panicky, and just plain stupid. For those who lived between the Mississippi and the lake and were ten feet below sea level with a Catagory 4 hurricane on the way asing "why didn'y you evacuate" is a legitimate question that hasn't yet been answered. I feel terrible that people lost their possesions but to put your life and that of your family in danger with no good reason.... I have a friend who's a Coast Guardsman who was there during the rescue efforts and meet with hostility from the residents because the Coast Guard hadn't gotten their sooner and weren't doing more. I know some residents were grateful but from hearing these stories from my friend there were quite a few who were not.

    It seems like all the Mayor and the Governor believed that taking turns passing the buck and the blame was the way to make things better. This game has continued to this day. Yeah, the Feds messed up. But not nearly as bad as the locals. God only knows where the money from the donations and the disaster refielf has ended up. It doesn't look like anyone was really keeping track of it. In this case it ended up in the hands of somebody who actually needed it – but now thay want some of it back !?! The state screwed up again this time. I guess it's the city's turn now?

    April 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  18. Scrooge

    OK, I'll be the meanie...

    A fourth grader can do the math as to the question of any overpayment(s) and duh.. they agreed to pay back any overage. In a moral world, the overpaid homeowners would voluntarily give back the excess gift.

    Of course this begs the larger question. Part of home ownership is financially protecting the property. It is called I N S U R A N C E. Then, the taxpayers would not have to pay the tab and I guess we would miss out on this wonderful 360 reportage.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  19. JimS

    What do we think?

    Dunno about the others, but I think ICF owes $2,000,000, and the people who recieved the funds owe nothing.

    Don't make them pay for someone else's screwups, especially when that someone else didn't even let them see the documentation on the estimates.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  20. Phylly Phil

    this is a shamed,after all that happen to these people.they are still living in the aftermath ,who every made this error should be responsible for the repayment of money, [icf] this was a scam all
    along and no one caught it until people started to enquire adout
    money and properties.[icf ] should be held accountable for their
    action,or non action until now.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  21. Paul

    hmmmmm.....
    State hires contractor to do assessments.
    State-hired contractor does erroneous assessments.
    State looks to homeowners, who are still realing from Katrina and all the "help" they've been given. to bail the state out of a contractor's mistake.

    Sorry. Doesn't add up.

    Why isn't the state looking to the contractor to make good on the mistake? If this was about building a bridge, the state would sue (or threaten to sue) the contractor for any breech or delay.

    Guess things are different in Louisiana.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:26 pm |
  22. Stacie

    Here's an idea – all those windfall profits that the oil companies have been making??? With 68 Billion dollars in profit you could just about rebuild that entire city and just make it a donation. Then they could write it off on their taxes right?

    Seriously, given the amount of money that the richest people in the world have, why can't they do something good with that money, like rebuilding some neighborhoods down in the worst areas of Louisianna (New Orleans wasn't the only place hurt bad). Not a house or two, but how about a few neighborhoods? A few million can build a couple blocks of decent homes down there. Come on Corporate America – you've gouged us this long – how about giving some back! Madonna? Mr. Gates? Mr. McCartney? All you movie stars with your millions – cough some up and help this country. I'm getting a little tired of seeing all your money go to help other countries – We need help here!!!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  23. Mary Beth

    Un-freakin' believable.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  24. Roger, Wisconsin

    It is unbelieveable that this people have to pay for the mistakes of others. This goverment have the resources to feed people in Africa, spend trillions of dollars on a war that to my opinion is a catastrophe, give tax breaks to the ones who needs it the least, but can't take care of our own people. The U.S. goverment has neglected our brothers and sisters not only in new orleans but everywhere else nationwide. In this country, the average people are the ones who pay the concequences of the mistakes made by the elite. Please let's vote intelligently, lets have a stronger voice to tell this "corporate own goverment" that they need to take care of their people, Not just the rich ones but all the people..

    April 29, 2008 at 1:25 pm |
  25. Erwin Stoessel

    The State messed up and therefore the residents should not be made to suffer for their mistakes.Instead go after the estimators because clearly they did not do their job.
    These people have suffered enough.
    Don't you just love how the US treats it's citizens?SICKENING.
    Next time declare yourselves a foreign country and get foreign aid that does not get repaid.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  26. Dayzed and confused

    I don't know about anyone else, but it seems like our government is taking advantage of the people that are helping them keep their positions. I used to believe that government was all about its people. Now it seems like the people are all for the government. We are being over worked and over charged to make sure that their pockets stay full while we are scraping by while paying upward of $100 a week to get to work and back home in an economy car. Food cost has gone up so much that I can barely afford to go out to dinner because I have to make sure that I have enough food to feed my kids at home. Is the motto of our government all work no play? This happening with the families of Katrina's disaster only goes to show that our government is not worried about our happiness, but rather what we can do to help them profit. Billions of dollars on war and now they want these people who's lives have been tormented and destroyed to pay them for help. That is what tax money is for, not war!!!!

    April 29, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  27. Ian

    This is dispicable.
    The victims are taxpayers, so it is their money anyway.
    The State should accept the loss, as there own mistake, or at worst recover it from the contractor that made the mistake in the first place.
    Those people have already been through so much already as it is.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:24 pm |
  28. chris

    ICF should pay for these overpayments out of there own pockets. As I know it from my time in New Orleans helping a friend rebuild, ICF subbed out the work wich was then again subbed out. and they made boatloas of money for just shuffling paper. I know that in my business if I make a mistake I pay. so should they.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  29. Jacque

    I believe these people should pay back overpayments especially when it comes to condo owners how could my neighbor get a check for 54,000.00 and then road home tells me I'm only getting $17,000.00 very unfair practice. Plus my neighbor says she doesn't have the money to pay it back. WEll she was able to get windows a back porch cover which is not covered by the road home and also gets tons of crap from QVC delivered to her door everyday but she doesn't have any money left. Something is not right with this picture at all and if these people don't have to pay it back them I want the $34,000 owed to me so I can order stuff from QVC everyday and get things added to my condo that the money shouldn't have been used for. I'm not even done rebuilding yet she was done before she got road home because she got a grant from fema. I didn't get crap. Someone rreally needs to investigate these people that got the overpayments from road home and will find that they really were given to much money and should pay it back!

    April 29, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  30. Terry

    Any disaster of that nature should be fully funded by the government. In this case, salvage what they can, raze the house down to beyond its foundation and rebuild it all. ALL! If we can spend billions of dollars on a war in a country that was no threat to us on any level whatsoever, we can damn well pay for some city rebuilding.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  31. Jan

    Welcome to the club....Hurricane Charlie was his name. $125,000 damage to the house, $55,000 from the insurance company. Good thing our business was unharmed or we would be homeless. Get a private adjuster, a good lawyer and good luck.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  32. Chris

    Sounds like ICF messed up. At this point, it doesn't really matter how or why. The residents, however, should not have to pay the price. ICF should do the right thing and pay the $2 million themselves.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  33. Eric Waller

    Why are people so surprised that the government let them down. When you live your whole life dependent on someone else to take care of you, instead of taking care of yourself, then when that person/government isn't there to help you, you can't help yourself because you don't know how.
    Every politician, from Obama on down the line, wants you to believe they have the answers for a better life for you. The truth is, you hold the key to your future and prosperity, not the government or any politician.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  34. Dave, Cleveland, Ohio

    Don't blame the federal government for this one! Louisiana should be ashamed to be doing this to their own people. I guess the Governor doesn't want to be in office after the current term ends.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:21 pm |
  35. Wayne

    There is no doubt in my mind ICF new what they were doing. They tried to get over and were caught! Now they are trying to add insult to an already injured and devistated city! I hope ICF is punished SEVERLY! I also hope no one has to pay for ICF's intentional mistakes!!! Thank you for your awesome reporting!

    April 29, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  36. Ms Love

    it is amaxing that after all this the government wants the residence to pay that money back. i have an idea, how about the oil rigs that they placed off the coast so as to not have to pay the state any money.....how about they pay the bill. Or how about our wonderful government take some of that money they are spending on this war and invest in its own people. i have many friends and family that were displaced from Katrina. The govrnment called them refugees. WHAT they are our people, my flesh and blood, my people. We help refugees but we cant help disaster victims. Another case of a failing government. This is HORRIBLE, fine IFC make them pay it they made the false estimates. Make them pay.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  37. Chris

    This is a disgusting display or our inempt government. I am a college student who recently visited New Orleans over a spring break trip that was set up by Campus Crusades to help volunteer to rebuild the city. I was shocked and repulsed by the lack of support of the government. The city seemed to be abandoned by not only locals but also by our government. The time spent in NOLA has affected me in that it has broken my confidence in a strong, responsive United States government. You hear the stories, listen to the news, but nothing is solidified until one see's just how abismal the conditions in NOLA are still. NOLA residents have hope that someday, someone will help them, and what little help our government has given thus far is now being taken away? This is truly a travesty in America, and our government needs to realign their prorities and fix New Orleans, instead of trying to wreck and ravage what little hope the residents still hold onto.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  38. Texas

    Heres a thought! CNN sets up an address or account, takes charge of the repayment for these folks. This way the money doesn't slip into some buracrats pocket. These folks have been through enough for goodness sakes. Heres my $20.00 to start the process, where do I send it CNN? Now leave these folks alone. Now! Go get the real problem child, ICF.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:19 pm |
  39. Emily

    Amazing isnt it, that America has plenty of money to help illegal immigrants, people that are hundreds of thousands of miles away in other countries, etc. But when people who actually live in America and pay taxes need help, the country just doesnt seem to have enough money... and now not only do we not have enough money to help, but we screwed up and now want you to pay us back!!! This country is just so backwards...

    April 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  40. Joe (New York, NY)

    If we're going to start billing our own citizens for grants that they should be rightfully entitled to from our government for a disaster they had no control over - then I sincerely hope that we send every Iraqi who claims to have been helped by the war a bill as well. Why not? If their quality of life is improving (which is somewhat questionable), shouldn't they be billed for our services? I think it is well past the point where the United States should stop focusing other people's problems and start addressing the issues that continually hurt this country. If we have billions of dollars to spend on this war, surely we can divert more of that to helping actual US citizens and not those that may or may not appreciate it down the road.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  41. Nikki

    This story saddens me in addition to the disasters from the tornadoes. We have a goverment that portrays themselves as helping its citizens and then the real story comes out. I appreciate the reporters we have in place who actually want to reveal the ridiculous fumbles of aid, policy and someone's version of justice. Absolutely crazy how this panned out for the victims of this city.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  42. DL in AL

    The home owner shouldn't pay. The company and the the people working for the company should pay. This Company, ICF, was paid to do a job. How were they paid? Commission? Flat rate?
    Also, do some more footwork...who is this company ICF. A fine for ICF? NO. They pay straigt up. Then maybe the homeowner.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:18 pm |
  43. Chris

    Just another reminder of how little our current administration, including congress, thinks of its own people. We spend billions and even trillions on a war that is going absolutely nowhere and NOTHING on folks here in the Uniteds States. It seems that the prospect of oil (by definition not the same as terrorism last time I referenced Webster's dictionary) far exceeds the need for adequate food, housing, afforadable transportation, and education in this country. President Bush, you should be ashamed of yourself. Our elected Senators and Congress people, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Does it ever cross your minds that "we the people" elected you? Maybe if you had to live paycheck-to-paycheck, worked two or three jobs just to make ends meet, worry about foreclosure on your home or wonder how you're going to get to work this week (like many of us do) you would realize how important your job actually is to this country. Get your priorities straight or the voters in this country will have you all looking for new jobs.

    Completely disheartened in VA

    April 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm |
  44. Adam

    I used to work with this company (ICF) within the Road Home program. The whole program is a sham. I can't even begin to get into the ways they screw over homeowners in rush to meet "quotas" and then punish the homeowners for the company's mistakes.

    It's an embarassment to Louisiana (although the company is not based in LA) and is an insult to those who lost everything in that storm.

    The best day of my life was leaving that office for the last time.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  45. Bob

    Did everyone miss the part about signing the contract saying the homeowners would have to repay monies they should not have received in the place? Is this story sad? Yes. Is making the homeowners repay wrong? No. It just amazes me that people think contracts are meaningless when abiding by them happens to put a sting on the ole' pocketbook. Why shouldn't these people have to repay? Would everyone feel differently if the story highlighted a muli-millionaire who recieved $20,000 in funds and is now complaining that he shouldn't have to repay?

    April 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  46. Danielle

    I think for a long time, our government has been resting on our laurels at the state and federal level. It isn't enough that we have procedures in place, and organizations to use in the time, and aftermath, of natural disaster. When these procedures are flawed, and the organizations prove to be inept at doing their job, more tragedy comes of tragedy. Unfortunately, the problem in situations like these is always given back to the wrong party: in this case, the victims of Hurricane Katrina. It happens with natural disasters, it happens with Health care and it happens in the home loan industry...just a few current examples.

    The good news is, that this nation is filled with caring, bright people who strive for improvement. These people are keenly aware of the way America is, and also the promise that it still holds. Let's do our part as citizens to make the smart decisions and to work harder for a better future.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  47. Erik C.

    I think the contractor should absord the costs due to its incompetence, and the Louisiana residents should be left alone, they had enough already!

    April 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  48. Celene

    How much more pain and cruely is the government going to dish out to the people of Katrina?
    This is not a third world country..We pay taxes thinking that when a natural disastor strikes our towns and our people will be helped..And yet every time I hear anything about Katrina I hear how our government is screwing these innocent people..
    So what if they were overpaid, it is not their fault.
    In the grand scheme of things, it is small change compared to the money our governemnt officials toss around for other things..
    Havn't they suffered enough, and for 'far too long' ..?

    April 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  49. Betty Miller Jones

    This is just the same kind of treatment that most of us went through after the Red River flood in 1990. The government agencies are so fouled up it is unthinkable. There is no organizational backup for any of the programs. FEMA is a joke.
    After over 100 of us (Red River Flood Victims) filed a class action lawsuit against the Corps of Engineers (who admitted causing the flood) to recoup losses that FEMA would not cover......Corps of Eng attys forced us to sign off on our losses for $1,500 each and threatened us that if we did not sign, we would each be billed $250,000 each. That is the sum that they estimated it was costing them to "protect" themselves from us! This is a well documented case . It was entitled "Abney Farms vs Corps of Engineers 1991 handled by a Texarkana AR attorney. Many of us tried to buy the flood insurance before the flood but couldn't get anyone to sell it to us because the govt. expected private ins. cos. to sell it for them and none would do it because of the many stipulations at the time and also that they would make no money. I have all the old documentation on this if anyone ever wanted to see it. 479-665-2733

    April 29, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  50. Paul

    Well, this doesn't surprise me. We need to get the money back from those greedy tax paying americans. God know our government needs the money to send to Iraq, or somplace they would rather see the poor tax paying americans dead.

    April 29, 2008 at 1:14 pm |
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