Aid still not getting to hurricane survivors, but there is plenty of frustation

| Mon Sep. 19, 2005 7:35 PM EDT

According to the Mirror, hundreds of tons of food shipped from Great Britain for Hurricane Katrina survivors have been blocked from distribution. The NATO ration packs, which have been declared unfit for human consumption, are in a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, according to the newspaper. The packs, which cost millions of dollars, are the same ones British soldiers eat in Iraq, and they have been approved by NATO for consumption by members of the American military.

Food from Spain and Italy is also being held by the FDA, which is supposedly trying to work out a plan to distribute more of the donated food.

It is unknown what, if any, FEMA's role is in the British rations situation. Ice, however, is another matter. On August 29, Cool Express, a Wisconsin company, was asked by FEMA to haul ice for hurricane relief. Seventy-five trucks were loaded and sent to the Gulf Coast, but their drivers were then sent to places like Idaho and Pennsylvania to await instructions. Late last week, the trucks were still scattered across the country, while FEMA continued to order ice.

On September 9, FEMA also ordered 970 wire crates from PetsMart to help rescue starving animals. Over the next four days, the agency changed the order, cancelled it, reinstated it, put it on hold, and then demanded the shipment. When PetsMart tried to deliver the cages to a New Orleans naval base, it was turned away. Eventually, the driver was admitted, but he drove 152 miles around the base, all day long, trying to find someone who would accept the order.

To this day, Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco is wondering what happened to the 500 buses promised by FEMA right after the storm hit New Orleans.

FEMA officials failed to show up last week for a meeting with the citizens of Slidell, Louisiana. The next day, they also failed to show up for a meeting with the citizens of Mandeville. In that case, however, they sent a contractor from Texas. Mandeville citizens stood in line for hours, waiting to fill out applications. Later, they were told that the applications were invalid and that they should go home and apply to FEMA by phone or online.

This morning, a FEMA representative said that the $2,000 grant promised to all hurricane victims may not actually be a grant, but could turn out to be a loan. Hundreds of applicants have already had their requests for the $2,000 turned down because they had returned to their houses and therefore "were not displaced."

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