Investigations

FEMA trailers full of food and supplies untouched

Monday, November 19, 2012

So many people are still suffering and a long way from recovery in the wake of Sandy, which makes this story all the more puzzling.

Why are millions of pounds of food and water just sitting in tractor trailers in Brooklyn, unused, when so many people could use them?

FEMA tells us they have stockpiled millions of pounds of food and water in the event of another storm hitting the area.

The agency sees it as prudent planning, to one truck driver the massive inventory has complicated his life and raised some questions.

Trailers at FEMA's staging center are loaded with food and bottled water.

Hundreds of them, were mostly delivered after the storm.

William Horton of Chattanooga Tennessee arrived 13 days ago with 84,000 pounds of ready to eat meals.

But those meals and most of the supplies in the trailers are not for the victims of Sandy, instead they're being held in the event New York is hit by another disaster in the near future.

That's why Mr. Horton's trailers have not been unloaded and why he's still waiting to get them back.

"So you've been spending every night here since November 6th?" Eyewitness News investigative reporter Jim Hoffer asked.

"Yes," Horton said.

"Sleeping where?" Hoffer asked.

"In my truck," Horton said.

He's been sleeping in his truck for 13 nights because FEMA won't unload his two trailers so he can resume delivering products for his other clients. "We can drop a trailer for a couple of days but not for 14 days," Horton said.

While FEMA is paying him $300 a day, he says he's still losing $5,000 a week.

"When did they tell you you'd get your trailers back?" Hoffer asked.

"He said he had to make a phone call to Washington. And that was all I heard and that's it nothing else," Horton said.

FEMA's Head of Recovery in New York says it, "is prudent to have stockpiles on hand." And that he, "is responsible to have emergency supplies in case they are needed again." He adds that FEMA is "starting to reduce stockpile."

The sight of all these trailers filled with unused supplies does raise questions about costs, efficiency, and distribution.

"Were there enough food items?" Hoffer asked.

"No, there's enough cleaning products but not enough food items," a victim of Hurricane Sandy said. "Would you like to have had more food items to choose from?" Hoffer asked.

"Yes, I would have," the storm victim said.

FEMA says the truck driver signed a contractual agreement and he is free to go home and come back to get his trailers when they are no longer needed.

But the trucker says he never agreed to surrender his trailers for weeks.

He says that would be like committing business suicide.

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Tags:
fema, hurricane sandy, investigations, jim hoffer
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