Hurricane Sandy wasn’t the first instance of FEMA’s ignorance and fraudulent mishandlings. After Hurricane Katrina rattled millions of victims in 2005, FEMA incorrectly awarded over $1 billion dollars to those who did not need it while many others received little to nothing as they struggled to repair their lives.
The government has estimated that over 130,000 people may be accountable for Katrina fraud due to FEMA mishaps. Those who were inaccurately awarded money were either ineligible, double-payed or could not even prove their residency.
For example, approximately $5.3 million dollars went to people who only posted their office boxes as their address. Millions of dollars were sent to people using prison inmate’s social security numbers. One person racked up almost $140,000 using 13 different addresses. Someone was even paid over $4,000 despite listing their address as a UPS store.
While FEMA recognized the acts of fraud, the damage was already done. FEMA was met with complaints of claim cancelations or a complete failure of assistance at all, leaving those who needed help the most completely stranded. The city of New Orleans in particular cited FEMA as both “unresponsive” and even “hostile.” In fact, in 2007, the city had only seen a small percentage of the billions they were promised for repairs.
FEMA says their highest priority is to get help to people as quickly as possible. However, due to their sloppy acts and lack of safeguards, they ended up costing taxpayers billions. Even worse, they put themselves in a debt, which has in turn left actual victims of Katrina and Sandy devastated.