Katrina relief money frittered away in US

Millions of dollars of disaster relief aid intended to help rebuild areas
ravaged by Hurricane Katrina have been wasted, according to two audits carried
out into how the money was spent.

Valuable resources were frittered away by the US Federal Emergency Management
Agency. The body tasked with managing how relief money is distributed is said to
have overpaid for hotel rooms for refugees from New Orleans and other areas hit.
It also handed out $2k (£1.2k) debit cards to victims with invalid social
security numbers or false names and addresses.

The two audits, carried out by the Government Accountability Office and the
Homeland Security Department, were released jointly by the senate homeland
security committee, and highlighted the misuse of financial aid by FEMA.

Committee chairman senator Susan Collins argued that the problem ‘once again,
is that the agency failed to prepare for the very type of disaster that happens
every year’. She added that the ‘pay first, ask questions later’ approach by
FEMA had been an ‘invitation to unscrupulous behaviour’.

Federal prosecutors at the US Department of Justice have filed fraud, theft
and other charges against 212 people accused of scams related to Gulf Coast

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