Indiana getting large chunk of hurricane relief money - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Indiana getting large chunk of hurricane relief money

Tom Walker/Washington Bureau Chief

Washington D.C., Oct. 4 - The floods of Katrina devastated Louisiana. But so far the flood of money to rebuild and recover is going elsewhere.

Ninety percent of the $2 billion in federal contracts issued has gone to companies outside the states most affected.

One watchdog group keeping an eye on that spending accuses the government of doing what's easiest.

Scott Amey with Project on Government Oversight says, "The federal government is rewarding the familiar and the convenient federal government contractors rather than spreading the wealth and rewarding some of the home state contractors that have been affected by Hurricane Katrina and small businesses."

He claims that is especially true with engineering and construction dollars, where contractors are more numerous.

But the government had fewer options in coming up with thousands of trailers to house evacuees, and for that it looked to major suppliers in Indiana.

The list of contracts issued by FEMA includes more than $500 million to Gulf Stream Coach, $37 million to Tom Stinnett RV and $14 million to Tom Raper RV.

And there's no question the trailers are welcome, wherever they come from, to those who have been waiting in shelters for weeks, desperate for someplace to live.

"We got them here," says St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis. "There is hope. We're going to get them to our citizens."

Federal officials insist they are trying to steer as much cleanup money as possible to companies in the Gulf states and what has been spent so far is just the first wave with much more to come.

The office of one Mississippi lawmaker said he doesn't begrudge Indiana the money being spent there to meet the needs further south, as long as the process is open and fair and that everyone gets a chance to compete for the business.

In all, Indiana companies have won $577 million in hurricane recovery contracts from FEMA. That's more than any other state and nearly three times the amount awarded firms in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama combined.

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