Will past FEMA problems resurface in Harvey recovery?

The challenges facing FEMA's employees and contractors after Harvey are so overwhelming that the definition of success must be reconsidered.

News Story (Texas)

Mike Snyder
Houston Chronicle
September 4, 2017

Tags: Disaster Recovery

Organizations mentioned/involved: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA)


In response to a lawsuit, FEMA recently agreed to stop denying assistance based on “deferred maintenance,” which was cited in Hedger’s case and many others. But an attorney representing South Texas residents who sued the agency says its problems are far from resolved.

“It’s not my understanding that FEMA has had a culture change, at least with regard to this issue,” said Jerome Wesevich, an attorney with El Paso-based Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

The organization has filed lawsuits challenging FEMA’s use of “secret rules” to determine who qualifies for disaster assistance and how much each applicant gets. The guidelines published by the agency, one lawsuit says, are too vague to be useful.