Katrina refugees say FEMA trailers making them sick

As states in the Southeastern U.S. brace for this year’s hurricane season, new Federal Emergency Management Agency head David Paulison has a promise: “You won’t see what happened with Katrina happen again in this country.” Paulison assured a crowd of emergency responders in Florida that the “new FEMA” is on its toes. Which is good news, because the old FEMA is still housing 86,000 families in temporary trailers throughout the gulf region. And those trailers, say residents and observers, are giving off toxic fumes that are making people sick. According to the Sierra Club, CBS News, and other sources, levels of formaldehyde — released from particleboard in floors and cabinets — are well above the federal limit in some trailers. One pediatrician says he’s seen dozens of trailer-dwelling residents with coughs, nosebleeds, burning eyes, and sinus infections. Poppycock, say the feds, whose response is summed up by the touchy-feely Paulison: “We’ve told people they can air those trailers out.”