July 11, 2007
Pierre and Stephenson on Katrina and FEMA
John K. Pierre and Gail S. Stephenson (both of Southern University Law Center) have posted After Katrina: A Critical Look at FEMA's Failure to Provide Housing for Victims of Natural Disasters on SSRN. Here's the abstract:
Disasters affect low-income victims more negatively than middle- or upper-class victims, and Hurricane Katrina was no exception. Hundred of thousands of people, many of them low-to-moderate income residents, were forced to evacuate their homes following Katrina. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act guarantees that disaster victims will receive help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA, however, failed to ensure that the disaster housing needs of Katrina's victims were met, just as it has failed to adequately meet the needs of disaster victims for the last two decades.
This article reviews the impact of disasters on victims, particularly low-income victims whose homes are destroyed or rendered uninhabitable or inaccessible as a result of a disaster, when the federal government fails to carry out its statutorily mandated duty toward those victims. The article further analyzes the issues that may arise when lawyers attempt to seek legal redress against FEMA on behalf of those made homeless by disasters in the United States and suggests changes that could be implemented by the federal government to prevent a recurrence of such failures in the future.
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