Hurricane relief efforts by the U.S. government have been troubling, to say the least. In October it was found that a $300 million contract to help rebuild Puerto Rico's electrical infrastructure was tasked to a small, two-year-old Montana company that had only two employees. Recently, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has sparked a call for investigation for awarding a 1-person company a $156 million contract to deliver food in Puerto Rico.
According to the NYTimes, the contract called for 30 million meals to be delivered to Puerto Rico but only 50,000 were ever delivered. For this huge task, FEMA contracted Tiffany Brown, an Atlanta entrepreneur and the sole owner of Tribute Contracting LLC with no experience in large-scale disaster relief and at least five canceled government contracts in her past, this was bound to go wrong.
Now she is seeking a $70 million settlement or $1,400 per meal for the early termination and to pay back the caterers who she hired citing that FEMA canceled her contract not because she was unable to deliver but because the food already delivered had not been packaged with the heating pouches. She claims it was not made clear FEMA solicited 'self-heating' meals.
Puerto Rican residents were also blindsided when FEMA declared it was officially shutting off and done providing federal aid to Puerto Rico. San Juan Mayor, Carmen Yulin Cruz, called out FEMA for leaving when 35 percent of the island still remains without power.
FEMA spokesperson William Boohe told the Times that the agency was able to rely on other suppliers. “At the time of the contract termination there were ample commodity supplies in the pipeline, and distribution was not affected,” Boohe said.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, (R-SC), has sent a subpoena to FEMA for all documents pertaining to the contract and the Trump administration’s handling of the disaster response in Puerto Rico.
As more news like this comes to light it's clear Puerto Rico deserves better and that FEMA needs to be held accountable so that if another hurricane hits any part of the U.S. there is no oversight.