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BR Congressman and U.S. Representative tour flood damaged areas, critique FEMA\'s response efforts

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BATON ROUGE – U.S. Representative John Mica of Florida and Baton Rouge Congressman Garret Graves toured flood damaged neighborhoods in South Louisiana from the sky on Monday.

Mica, who chairs the U.S. House subcommittee that oversees FEMA, said that the relief agency has been pitiful in dealing with the recovery efforts.

"This is one of the biggest displacement of people I've ever seen in the country and the response is pitiful," Mica said.

Mica says that it is taking too long for FEMA to get flood victims into mobile homes and says that so far only one is occupied.

"The federal programs are not adaptable to this situation," Micas said.

FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Gerard Stolar, defended the agency.

"Our priority just as the governor's is to get people back into their homes as quickly as possible," Stolar said.

Deploying FEMA trailers has been difficult as many of the flood damaged properties are too small to accommodate the large mobile homes. In addition, many of the damaged houses are in flood zones, so the agency's mobile homes are prohibited from being placed there.

In the mean time, Congress has yet to pass a disaster relief bill for the state.

"We're not going to be able to recover as a community recognizing the devastation in these homes in these businesses well outside the flood plain," Graves said.

Congress has been in recess recently, but can start work on the relief bill after Labor Day. Congressman Micah said that he plans to hold federal hearings on FEMA's response to the flood.


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