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NCC asks FEMA to investigate 'toxic' trailers
Washington, D.C., May 31, 2007 – The National Council of Churches USA (NCC) has called on Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator R. David Paulison to "to launch a full investigation into the health risks associated with the trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma."
The NCC also called on FEMA to suspend selling the trailers until it is proven they are safe. The call came in a letter to Paulison from the NCC's Special Commission for the Just Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast [http://www.ncccusa.org/justrebuilding/]. It was signed by commission co-chairs, the Rev. Michael Livingston, NCC's president, and Bishop Thomas L. Hoyt, past president of the NCC [complete text below].
Members of Congress have also called for a probe into the trailers as well as Congressional hearings into the matter. Reports have surfaced in recent months that some of the trailers contain toxic levels of formaldehyde.
"For almost two years, victims of these storms have made FEMA trailers their home having lost almost all of their earthly possessions," wrote Livingston and Hoyt yesterday. "Now many of those same people are finding that the place they thought would be a refuge for them during the rebuilding process is now potentially causing them, their children and other family members to suffer respiratory and other health problems—not the least of which is an increased risk for cancer. This is just unacceptable and appalling."
The Special Commission has met several times since the storms changed the lives and landscape of the Gulf Coast. They have visited the region listening to victims and officials including last week's visit to Beaumont, Texas to hear from those impacted by hurricane Rita. The Commission also heard from representatives of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and saw firsthand the work being done by people of faith to help victims of Rita rebuild. A report card on governmental initial and ongoing response to the storms was issued by the Commission last February.
An "Ecumenical Work Week" is being planned by the Special Commission for this August marking the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Church groups and their relief agencies have donated millions of dollars and countless volunteer hours to help rebuild lives and communities all along the damaged and destroyed Gulf Coast.
NCC News contact: Dan Webster, 212.870.2252, NCCnews@ncccusa.org
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