Katrina clear up probe

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2007 National Black Members' Conference
19 January 2007

Conference notes that Cable News Network (CNN) news reported in May 2006 that almost $17m is being withheld by the state of Mississippi while authorities probe a ‘multitude of discrepancies’ in invoices that contractors submitted for the removal of debris from Hurricane Katrina.

The state was forced to stop making payments in late April to Harrison County, after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began auditing the work done to clear away storm damaged trees. An internal report by FEMA blamed Harrison County officials for paying the contractors more than $10million without checking the quality and accuracy of the work quoted on the said invoices.

FEMA debris specialists notified Harrison County on three separate occasions that the contractors were not performing their jobs properly, resulting in ineligible limbs and trees being cut and billed. The FEMA report also said that Harrison County officials took inadequate steps to correct the problem.

Conference believes that, once again, it is Black people suffering the negative and disproportionate impact of this unacceptable incompetence. Last year we saw the images of Black bodies floating in the flooded street of New Orleans and Mississippi, and now we learn of official incompetence.

Conference asks that the National Black Members’ Committee (NBMC) seeks to:

1)work with the National Executive Council, the International Department and relevant national structures to lobby the United Kingdom Government to use its international influence to bring this incompetence to the notice of the United States Federal and State governmental departments;

2)support any action being considered by the international charity organisations as a means of bringing the Bush administration to public account.