FEMA Waited Too Long To Test Trailers For Formaldehyde

Once again FEMA has failed us. This time it has been disclosed that FEMA has had numerous complaints about high levels of formaldehyde fumes in FEMA trailers provided after Hurricane Katrina. FEMA never investigated the complaints.

In fact, the first story WLOX did about the problem on the coast was March of 2006 when a Bay St. Louis couple did its own testing and found formaldehyde gas levels at twice the EPA recommended safe levels.

At a recent hearing in Washington documents revealed that government lawyers discouraged investigating reports of high formaldehyde level in the trailers. The lawyers were concerned if an investigation did take place then FEMA would admit to having a potential problem.

It is really a shame that the people who are charged with protecting our citizens are more concerned about liability than making sure the temporary housing is safe. No wonder residents are skeptical at times about the role of our government.

Now FEMA says the Centers for Disease Control is gathering information this week to plan for testing air in the FEMA trailers. Our question is, why did it take a congressional hearing for FEMA to do what is right and responsible?

Hopefully, after the tests are completed, thousands of residents on the coast still living in FEMA trailers will be notified so they can take any needed safety steps. Hurricane Katrina victims deserve better treatment.

That's our opinion, we would like to hear yours. Email your thoughts to editorials@wlox.com.

David Vincent
WLOX-TV Station Manager