FEMA relief spending in pre-Election Florida 2004
In response to Florida's Four Hurricanes in 2004 -- Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne -- plus Tropical Storm Bonnie -- Florida's 67 counties received from FEMA (as of December 8, 2004) "more than $3-billion expended in response and recovery aid for Florida. Approximately 1.15-million homeowners, renters and business owners ... registered for assistance." 
- "Even before the first hurricane hit Florida's Gulf Coast," Ceci Connolly wrote in the December 27, 2004, Washington Post, Michael D. Brown, who heads FEMA, "dispatched people and equipment to the state, impressing the locals who had been frustrated by FEMA's slow response to Hurricane Andrew in 1992."
- "Before the first storm even made landfall, FEMA began preparations by strategically locating key assets to areas around the state. Through the onslaught of each storm, FEMA pushed supplies into hard hit areas, working with state and local officials to identify and prioritize needs. These supplies included 30.3-million liters of water, 186.3-million pounds of ice, 141,843 plastic sheeting installed on homes, 493,788 tarps for distribution and 9,633 patients treated by FEMA's disaster medical assistance teams." 
- "Through Florida's four hurricanes, Brown set records for handing out checks -- not to mention ice, water, food, tents, tarps, medical supplies and portable toilets. On the first day of Hurricane Charley, Brown's crews delivered 560,000 pounds of ice and 200,000 liters of water. All told, the agency dispensed more than $926 million in assistance to Floridians [as of December 26, 2004]." 
"J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, who was a top federal flood-insurance official in the 1970s and 1980s, said that the Frances overpayments "are questionable given the timing of the election and Florida's importance" as a battleground state." 
"Using geographical data from 2.6 million aid applications, Jowei Chen, a PhD candidate at Stanford University, identified which voting precinct each one of the applications came from...Chen found that, keeping all else equal including the severity of damage and household income, a relief applicant from a Republican precinct received 19 percent more aid than an applicant from a moderate precinct and 40 percent more aid than an applicant from a Democratic precinct." 
"The massive storm, the worst in Florida since Hurricane Andrew killed 26 and caused $25 billion in damage in 1992, has left 23 people dead -- and the count keeps rising. The American Red Cross estimates that almost 900 homes were destroyed and 20,000 suffered major or minor damage -- and the count keeps rising. The price-gouging complaints have topped 2,200 -- and the count keeps rising.
"At the same time, other numbers are more hopeful: 2.8 million people without power has shrunk to 330,000. The Federal Emergency Management Agency thought it would have to set up temporary homes for 10,000, but now plans on 4,000." 
"FEMA made 31 million dollars in questionable payments to residents of Florida's Miami-Dade County for damage from Hurricane Frances in September 2004, even though the storm caused only minimal damage in that area." 
According to a report by the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General (IG), made public last May at a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, more than eight million dollars was given to 4,300 people to rent temporary housing even though they had not asked for the money, and in many cases their homes were almost completely undamaged by the storm. 
Disaster Relief 2004
"A record $4.27 billion has been paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to people and communities victimized by this year's intense and damaging Atlantic hurricane season. ... Most of that, $3.1 billion, was spent in Florida, according to Michael D. Brown, director of FEMA, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security." 
Related SourceWatch Resources
Documents & Reports
- Statement of Under Secretary Michael D. Brown. Governor's Hurricane Conference Tampa, Florida, June 11, 2003.
- Statement of Under Secretary Michael D. Brown. 2004 National Hurricane Conference, Orlando Florida, April 7, 2004.
- Fact Sheet: "Florida Hurricane Charley and Tropical Storm Bonnie," FEMA, Declared August 13, 2004.
- Fact Sheet: "Florida Hurricane Frances," FEMA, Declared September 4, 2004.
- "Massive Federal Response Underway For Hurricane Frances," FEMA, September 4, 2004.
- News Release: "Responding to Hurricanes Charley and Frances," White House, September 6, 2004.
- "IRS Grants Tax Relief for Florida Hurricane Victims," IR-2004-115, September 10, 2004 (Updated 9/13/04 to add 6 counties)(Updated 9/27/04 to add 3 counties).
- "Hurricane Ivan Preparations Underway In Multiple Threatened State," Louisiana Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness, September 14, 2004.
- Fact Sheet: "Florida Hurricane Ivan," FEMA, Declared September 16, 2004.
- Fact Sheet: "Florida Hurricane Jeanne," FEMA, Declared September 26, 2004.
- "FEMA’s Response to the 2004 Florida Hurricanes: A Disaster for Taxpayers?" U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, May 18, 2005. Florida Senator Bill Nelson "detailed numerous frauds perpetrated by Brown at FEMA. This featured over $31 million in payouts, including paying for home and car repairs, in Miami-Dade County, which had been virtually unaffected by the storms. More morose, FEMA managed to pay the costs of over 300 funerals statewide, even though medical examiners attributed only 123 to the hurricanes." 
- "President orders disaster aid for Florida hurricane victims," FEMA, July 10, 2005. Release Number: HQ-05-143. re Hurricane Dennis.
- "Florida 2004 Hurricane Recovery Passes $5.6 Billion Mark," FEMA, August 12, 2005. Release Number: LTR-05-014.
Articles & Commentary
- Steve Bousquet, Bill Adair, and Chase Squires, "Unlike Andrew, aid's right on Charley's heels," St. Petersburg Times, August 17, 2004.
- Manuel Roig-Franzia and Ceci Connolly, "For Hurricane Victims, 'Normal' Is a Mantra and a Wish. Power Returning, But Toll Rises," Washington Post, August 20, 2004.
- "Hurricane Frances weakens slightly. Storm downgraded to Category 2 but still 'dangerous'," CNN, September 4, 2004.
- Manuel Roig-Franzia and Michael Grunwald, "Frances Drenches Fla.; Millions Without Power. Hurricane downgraded to tropical storm; state declared disaster area," Washington Post, September 5, 2004.
- Manuel Roig-Franzia, "Another Punch for Weary Fla. 5 Are Killed as Jeanne's Winds, Rains Ravage State," Washington Post, September 27, 2004.
- Megan O'Matz, Sally Kestin and Luis F. Perez, "Miami-Dade FEMA claims high in poor areas," Florida Sun-Sentinel, October 17, 2004.
- Charles Mahtesian, "How FEMA delivered Florida for Bush," GovExec.com, November 3, 2004.
- Michael D. Brown, "Floridians rebuilding with FEMA support," St. Petersburg Times, December 8, 2004.
- Joan D. LaGuardia, "FEMA seeks homes for holidays," news-press.com, December 12, 2004.
- Ceci Connolly, "Guiding Disaster Aid In Post-Sept. 11 Era. Florida Hurricanes Became Focus in 2004," Washington Post, December 27, 2004.
- David E. Sanger, "It's About Aid, and an Image," New York Times, December 30, 2004.
- "FEMA: Florida Election Management Agency," PERRspectives, September 5, 2005.
- Mark Fitzgerald, "'Sun-Sentinel': Katrina Only Latest of FEMA Foul-Ups," Editor & Publisher, September 16, 2005.
- Marc Kaufman, "FEMA's City of Anxiety in Florida. Many Hurricane Charley Victims Still Unsure of Next Step," Washington Post, September 17, 2005. In FEMA City, "As a result, the low-income working people most likely to have been displaced by the hurricane are now most likely to be displaced by the recovery, too."