Congress grills FEMA on toxic post-hurricane trailers

The media have reported for at least two months that the trailers used to house refugees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been giving off fumes that are making some people sick. Now it seems the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has fended off those accusations, has known about the toxic trouble since early 2006. The House Oversight and Government Reform committee subpoenaed FEMA records that recommend not testing for toxics, as that “would imply FEMA’s ownership of the issue.” At a hearing yesterday, legislators tore into FEMA head R. David Paulison, with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) calling the agency response “sickening” and Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) blasting its “fog of risk-averse lawyering.” With some 60,000 households still in the temporary housing, Paulison promised to … consult with manufacturers. “We have lost a great deal through our dealings with FEMA,” testified former Army officer and storm victim Paul Stewart, “not the least of which is our faith in government.”