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FEMA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and American Red Cross Are ‘JACKASS AGENCIES’ Who Haven’t Recognized The ‘Scope’ Or ‘Urgency’ of The Disaster in the VI and PR

STANDING AROUND DOING NOTHING: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CoE) do what they do best — absolutely nothing! (Except repair Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s generator at Coakley Bay Condominiums.)

CHRISTIANSTED — Some 28 years after Hurricane Hugo struck St. Croix, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is being called a “jackass agency” — again!

Not only FEMA, but also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CoE) and the American Red Cross have been given that moniker as well.

Critics say that FEMA, the CoE and Red Cross came down to the territory relatively quickly after Hurricanes Irma and Maria –but have done nothing appreciable in the six weeks following the storms.

“These folks have done nothing but ‘observe’ the problems since they got here,” one source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “FEMA sits around on its hands, tells local officials what they already know about what needs to be fixed, and then they go to lunch. There is no appreciation for the scope of the disaster and no sense of urgency in getting things done — they haven’t visited a majority of the houses on all three islands despite being here for a month and a half.”

In 1989, Sen. Ernest Hollings, (D-S.C.), was critical of George H.W. Bush Administration’s handling of the response to Hugo nearly 30 years ago in South Carolina when he said he was “embarrassed by the federal response” at Charleston.

“It’s just raw incompetence,” Hollings said at the time, calling FEMA “a bunch of bureaucratic jackasses” who “have not recognized the scope of the emergency nor its urgency.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same. But this time there is one additional federal agency in numbers here — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (CoE) and the private relief organization widely seen in the American Red Cross.

One resident said that they went into FEMA’s offices in Christiansted and asked to use their Internet as a hot spot soon after Hurricane Maria.

“I wanted to get word to my family that I was OK,” the long-term resident said. “I spoke with John Patterson in FEMA’s Christiansted office by the steeple building. When he found out I was a local resident, Patterson told me that the Internet was for ‘federal government employees only.’ And he added that: ‘I couldn’t use their Internet because the Chinese might hack their database while I was using it.’ That’s just how stupid they are — no common sense — and they probably haven’t had a paying job in 25 years.”

Another source was equally critical about the two arms of the federal government here.

“You have to understand that it is the beginning of winter on the U.S. mainland,” a second source said. “FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers do not want this boondoggle to end any time soon. They are dragging out the response to the disaster because, quite frankly they are basking in the tropical weather — and most importantly — they have electricity in the hotels and restaurants that they inhabit. The response to the disaster comes second for them — their first priority is their own pleasure — paid for at the expense of American taxpayers.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is accused of taking a “top down” approach to the aftermath of the storms.

“The CoE put a priority on repairing his excellency the governor’s generator at Coakley Bay Condominiums,” a third source said. “When they get around to your house, depends on which commissioner and deputy commissioner and senator needs help first. The grass roots people don’t exist to the U.S. Army — especially the CoE — the proof is in how lax they are about going about their jobs — you don’t count to them — but Gov. (Kenneth) Mapp does.”

The American Red Cross, familiar to the territory for their help in administering emergency shelters after disasters, has not escaped criticisms either.

“They say that the American Red Cross has distributed thousands of meals after the storms — but mostly to members of their own family — who can say that they got any meals assistance from the Red Cross in St. Thomas, St. John or St. Croix?” another source said. “You only see them at lunchtime wearing those red and white vests and I guess hoping to get a discount at the restaurants they frequent. Every one of them is 60 to 70 years old — it’s like attack of the living AARP — it looks like most of them escaped from an old folks home. Do they think they look cute in those vests? Why don’t they go out and actually do some work and help?”

Overall, the federal response to the disasters caused by Irma and Maria has been called “despicable,” “miserable” and “disgusting.”

“You see the red t-shirts of the Army Corps of Engineers everywhere with ‘EMERGENCY OPERATIONS’ on the back — but what exactly are they doing here?” a source added. “We have no bridges to engineer — we have no dams or levees that might break — it seems that they are just here on vacation. I’m seeing red all around me — but the only people working are the stateside lineman crews from the U.S. mainland. And you never see FEMA anywhere — they might not even be here for all we know — the response to the disaster has been disgusting — these people ought to be ashamed of themselves — if they just opened their eyes they’d see we are suffering. But inside their hotel room the air conditioning is cool the meals are hot and the drinks are even cooler. Why would anyone want to leave here?

Some 47 days after the storms, only 19 percent of St. Croix has electricity — most of that time St. John was at zero.

“They have a good thing going here and they don’t want to spoil it any time soon,” the source said. “They ARE jackasses — despicable people. People who are completely unemployable — can only get a job with FEMA — and those who can’t get a job with FEMA can volunteer with the American Red Cross. This is a big joke to them — they are learning to scuba dive and taking trips to Buck Island on the government’s dime — this will be something that they can tell their grandkids about. FEMA because of its mission agency is a government organization of amateurs — they are by design ‘unprofessional’ — and they care nothing about doing a good job — their motto is ‘despacito.'”


On a related note, FEMA said “computer problems” are forcing them to ask residents who applied for its Multi-Family Lease and Repair program — to apply again.

The agency claims an “email issue” was fixed, according to FEMA spokeswoman Renee Bafalis, and homeowners interested in participating in the program can email

OPERATING IN THE DARK: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offices still had no electricity in Christiansted when this photograph was taken in late October.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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