Folks, this is a story that ticks me off so much on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin!
More than eight years after it was determined that Hurricane Katrina victims were getting sick from dangerously high levels of formaldehyde in the travel trailers where they’d been relocated, people are still living in those same trailers.
Looks like I decided to begin at the end of the story, didn’t I? Well, it’s something I felt you needed to know right off the bat.
Now let’s go back to the beginning and I’ll show you how corrupt and irresponsible government agencies and some individuals can be.
Then I’ll circle back to the end of this story and let you know whether or not the Federal Emergency Management Agency (better known as FEMA) was held responsible.
From Home to Dome
We all remember 2005 when Hurricane Katrina wiped out a portion of New Orleans and other cities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas.
More than a decade later, we can still picture those poor people who were left homeless. Many of them had no choice but to live in the Louisiana Superdome for a while, despite the poor conditions and the violence that occurred there.
The government response was slow and ineffective, and the whole thing left Americans feeling like their government had betrayed them. As it turned out, we didn’t know the half of it.
This Horror Film Didn’t Need a Trailer
Some folks whose houses were flooded were allowed to live in travel trailers until their homes were repaired or replaced. Now, a travel trailer is very small and very cramped. It’s hardly an ideal place to live.
But considering the alternative – being homeless or being subjected to unhealthy and sometimes dangerous conditions in the Superdome – it was a step up. Especially for families trying to keep their kids safe.
Or so we thought.
Homesick Gets a New Meaning
Before too long, many kids, adults and elderly people living in these trailers started getting headaches. And they started getting nosebleeds. And they started experiencing coughing and breathing problems.
Doctors began noticing that a high percentage of the kids coming to them with respiratory issues were ones living in these trailers.
What did health inspectors discover? Oh, nothing much… just that the levels of formaldehyde in these trailers was WAY more than is healthy to breathe. One trailer measured 75 times the amount that is considered safe.
Formaldehyde Ain’t Fun
Formaldehyde is a common preservative found in building materials used in manufactured homes. But in most homes, you can’t touch the ceilings by reaching up. And in most homes, you can’t touch opposite walls by taking a couple of steps.
In tiny travel trailers – which were never designed for people to live in – the formaldehyde has nowhere to go… other than into the lungs of people living in them. And then those people get sick and some of them die.
Now, I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say FEMA officials had no idea this was going to happen. Let’s say they were trying to do a good thing by giving people a roof over their heads while their homes were being repaired or replaced.
Once word got out that people were getting sick from these trailers, surely they would take responsibility and do whatever possible to get these people help, right?
FEMA “Ignored, Hid and Manipulated”
Well, that’s not exactly the way it went down. In 2008, three years after Hurricane Katrina, an investigation conducted by Congressional Democrats revealed that FEMA “ignored, hid and manipulated” the scientific research for the purpose of downplaying the danger posed by formaldehyde in these trailers.
Believe it or not, FEMA officials actually instructed scientists at the health agency that was providing them with guidance to leave out details of long-term exposure to formaldehyde in their report.
The Lawyers Pounce
If lawyers were not already chomping at the bit about the potential of this situation, they certainly were now. They rounded up as many victims as they could and filed a class-action suit, which was settled in 2012 for $42.6 million.
That might sound like a nice chunk of change, but as it turns out, it really isn’t. There were approximately 55,000 residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas involved in the suit, but after the smoke cleared, each victim received only around $4,000.
Why so little? Because lawyers, who have about as much moral integrity as FEMA officials, skimmed close to one-half off the top. The victims might have trouble breathing, but the lawyers were enjoying the fresh air as they walked out of the courtroom with close to $20 million.
Pay No Attention to Those Trailers Behind the Curtain
So, who had to pay the $42.6 million? FEMA, right? Nope. The trailer manufacturers got hit with the big bulk of it, with FEMA contractors picking up the rest of the amount.
But the story wasn’t over then and there. FEMA unloaded the trailers, slapping a sign on them that they were not to be used for housing. Because, you know, whoever acquired them would certainly never stoop so low as to do something as dishonest as what FEMA did.
And guess what? Over the last two years, the trailers that sickened Hurricane Katrina victims are now being used as housing for people in a variety of states, including North Dakota, Missouri, Georgia and Tennessee.
So, to recap…
- FEMA gives people a place to live that is dangerous to their health.
- FEMA hides the fact that there is danger.
- FEMA tells health agency officials to keep their mouths shut about the long-term negative effects of formaldehyde.
- FEMA walks away scot-free without any legal obligation to make the situation right.
- FEMA gets rid of the trailers without making sure they won’t be used for housing in the future.
- FEMA pays no attention to the fact that the trailers are still being used for housing.
There’s your government in action, folks… making bad decisions, covering up dangers to Americans, influencing others to manipulate data, behaving irresponsibly and washing their hands of the whole thing. They merely stroll away feeling no remorse, ready to mistreat the next batch of victims who come their way.
What Contaminants Are You Breathing?
It’s too late to protect Hurricane Katrina victims from formaldehyde – or from FEMA, for that matter – but there’s still time to guard yourself and your family from a wide variety of indoor air pollutants that could be negatively affecting your health without you even knowing it.
The Alexapure Breeze is an air purification system that removes up to 99.97 percent of dangerous airborne contaminants, including allergens, dander, bacteria, viruses and odors.
Quiet and lightweight, it even removes embedded odors from carpet, upholstery and drapery.
Click here to find out more.
To your survival,
P.S. One of the nice things about the Alexapure Breeze is that there are no knobs, buttons or levers to twist or pull. Once turned on, purification settings adjust instantly based on the air quality in the room.