Responding to a Disaster

By July 10, 2008Miscellaneous

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA) is the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, which yesterday held a hearing on environmental health and safety issues raised by the emergency housing of Katrina Hurricane survivors in travel trailers. Rather than engage in the outrage and “gotcha” politics that are the committee’s SOP — the hearing referred to “FEMA’s Toxic Trailers” — Davis gave a balanced opening statement that respected the fact that sometimes the world is complicated and people and businesses do their best in difficult circumstances. From his news release, “Government Confusion, not Industry Conspiracy“:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said today he hopes Wednesday’s hearing on formaldehyde levels in trailers distributed to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita won’t focus on a “majority-manufactured conspiracy theory among trailer makers” but rather on the dysfunction of government agencies that has led to and sustained most of the problems.“We saw first-hand the confusion that reigned on the Gulf Coast after the 2005 storms,” said Davis, who chaired the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina and produced a report highly critical of the government’s efforts.

“But we have to remember trailer manufacturers were pushed to their limits and did their best to help ill-prepared and disjointed government agencies respond to the disaster. Standards did not exist. Testing methods were not reliable. And occupants – already victimized by a 500-year storm – were caught in the middle.”

His prepared statement is here.

As we noted yesterday, the manufacturers who spoke did a stellar job in explaining the realities they faced, putting environmental issues in context, and describing the efforts they made to ensure their products’ safety. It’s nice to see that some members of the committee were receptive to the facts instead of promoting a pre-determined storyline. 


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  • […] does, the typical accusation-laden exercise at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the hearing on the environmental safety of travel trailers used in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, this story in The Federal Times strikes a humorous note. From […]

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