COMMENTS: Toxic Trailers

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is usually NBC's preserve. Not today. CBS led its newscast with Armen Keteyian's Investigation into the toxic living conditions of the 86,000 evacuated families still living in FEMA emergency housing trailers 21 months later. The trailers, quipped Keteyian, are "meant for weekend trips." He found children suffering from "coughing, burning eyes, nosebleeds, sinus infections." He suspected that formaldehyde in the particleboard used by Gulf Stream Coach of Indiana to make the trailer's floors and cabinets was the culprit: "Under hot, humid conditions," Keteyian reported from a Mississippi trailer park, "formaldehyde lets off toxic fumes, especially harmful to young lungs." He quoted FEMA's safety recommendation: "Open the windows and turn on the air conditioner."

Why are so many evacuees still in emergency shelter rather than rebuilt housing? CBS' Sharyl Attkisson obtained a Government Accountability Office report on how the $110bn allocated by Congress has been spent: "Less than $20bn has gone to replace buildings like homes, schools and hospitals. Most of the money was spent on emergency needs." Of the 136,000 who have applied for grants or loans to return home, "fewer than 17,000 have gotten any money."


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