US Hurricane Aid Snarled in Red Tape

$3.5B to replace schools and firehouses languishing in accounts
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2008 3:20 AM CST
A Mississippi school superintendent leads a group of congressman on a tour of areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. At rear are some of the temporary trailers used to teach children after...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Billions of dollars in FEMA aid earmarked for rebuilding infrastructure pulverized by the 2005 Gulf Coast hurricanes have yet to be spent on thousands of important projects such as replacing schools and firehouses, USA Today reports. Out of $4.5 billion in aid to Louisiana and Mississippi, only $1 billion has been spent. Much of the rest is sitting in state accounts until local authorities can get through tangles of local and federal red tape.

"Are we satisfied with the rate of construction? Absolutely not. But the biggest challenge in spending the money has been FEMA's process," said the head of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. Federal officials blame local authorities who they say should be making tough decisions and moving forward faster.