Landrieu Comments on FEMA's Decision to Keep Promise to Students
FEMA responds to Landrieu's letter by reversing previous decision to take back recovery grants from students.
WASHINGTON - United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., today commented on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) decision to change its policy regarding disaster assistance grants given to students living in dormitories affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Following reports that FEMA was demanding the grants be repaid, Sen. Landrieu sent a letter to FEMA Director R. David Paulison in early March requesting that the agency reverse its policy.
Many dormitories at Louisiana colleges were flooded or destroyed by fire following the 2005 hurricanes. Students lost books, clothing, computers and other personal necessities and many had to transfer to out-of-state colleges after the storms closed their schools. Like other hurricane victims, students applied for and received expedited assistance to cover housing costs and other needs. FEMA dispersed the aid, but the agency later sent intimidating letters to students demanding that the assistance be returned. The agency today reversed its decision and is letting the students keep their grants.
Sen. Landrieu said:
"FEMA's decision to take back money from students it had helped after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita was reprehensible. Students were forced to pay for lost books, clothes and tuition at other universities, and these grants provided much-needed relief so that they could get through those very difficult times. That is why I asked Director Paulison not to take back our students' money, and I am pleased that FEMA made the right decision today. Their reversal of that decision will give Louisiana students the hope and resources they need to continue to recover from the deadly storms."
In her March 6 letter to Director Paulison, Sen. Landrieu wrote, "It seems incomprehensible that more than a year after the hurricanes, FEMA would send out intimidating letters, with little explanation, demanding that the money be repaid or face fines and penalties.
"To ensure every proper consideration is being provided to impacted Louisiana students and to ease their own burdens of recovery, I respectfully request that any debt owed to you by a student from an impacted university be forgiven, except in circumstances of intentional fraud."
The full text of Sen. Landrieu's letter is available here.