Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture Header Picture

Blog Editors

Recent Posts

HALO Trip - Arizona in Images

20 March 2012 – Saint George Day 2: On Medicaid and Zion National Park

19 March 2012 – Saint George Day 1: Utah Legal Services at the Southern Utah Community Legal Center

18 March 2012 – To Saint George, Seven of Us Go!

17 March 2012 – HALO Departs for Spring Break 2012!



Posted By Ji-Hyun, Mar 29, 2008

Road in front of beach with warped metal poleNow that the trip is over, I wanted share a few of the horrifying issues I learned about on the Gulf Coast.

1. Formaldehyde. After the storm, FEMA ordered hundreds of thousands of trailers to provide temporary housing for people with literally no where to live. In their haste, FEMA did not bother to allow the trailers to sit for the certain number of months necessary for formaldehyde to dissipate. New trailers release formaldehyde from the wood and other materials they are made with, and this problem is exacerbated by moisture. Clearly, the Gulf Coast was a moist place after Katrina.

When people began getting sick with burning eyes and throats and bloody noses, FEMA began testing for increased formaldehyde levels, as early as 2006. However, they were advised by their attorneys to halt testing to avoid legal liability. Now that the problem is apparent, FEMA is rushing to get people out of the trailers.

I have to admit that I didn't know about formaldehyde poisoning before the trip. To learn about it was shocking and appalling. FEMA poisoned countless people after the storm, and tried to cover it up. People still live in these trailers! There’s a pending class action suit and I hope FEMA pays for this horrible oversight.

2. Casinos are such a controversial issue in MS. Since the storm, the most noticeable and flashy landmarks are casinos, particularly because they are the only nice places. I learned that the governor gave the casinos extra money to rebuild, when there was already funding available. Meanwhile, people continue to live in poisonous FEMA trailers because the governor decided that casinos were more important. How important is it to raise revenue and attract tourism, when the town is still gone?

Moreover, casinos were located on barges and ports off the mainland before Katrina. The government decided that the ruins out on the water should be disposed of by sinking them in the ocean, and calling it a reef. If the ocean wasn't dirty enough after the storm, now it has a beautiful, natural reef composed of casinos! I’m not an environmental expert, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t kosher.

3. The forgotten little sister. I don't blame you if you thought I was going New Orleans. I think everyone at some point thought I was. The problem is that once people hear Katrina, it is synonymous with New Orleans. The state of New Orleans is terrible of course, but people forget that it's terrible in MS too. New Orleans was a levee and flooding problem, while the coast of MS was battered by the hurricane itself. People in MS often feel that the damage was worse there, yet New Orleans gets all the attention. Perhaps because MS had the title of already being the poorest state in the country, nobody cares that it continues to be wrought with poverty and crisis. Please remember that Katrina hit five states, and not just New Orleans. Injustice continues all over the Gulf Coast in the country's failure to rebuild these places.