by Tony Sferlazza
Plenty met with Mr. Washington and rebuilt his home, with the help of some great volunteers, in the record time of four weeks.
We were just waiting for the electric meter to be installed and his home would be done. Mr. Washington was a man of strong faith, so three days before the meter was installed FEMA moved his belonging into his home and locked him out of his trailer. I looked out of his home to find my friend crying. I asked what was wrong and he said, “I have no place to go.” This made me so mad that I called FEMA. They would not answer the phone or return my call. At 4:30 that day I left the last message, I was, “calling the news to do a story about this.” Then my phone rang. They paid for a hotel room for him. It was miles from his home but, with help, my 87-year-old friend found the hotel. About thirty minutes later, my phone rang; it was Mr. Washington saying they would not let him into the room. I told him to put the hotel manager on the phone. I asked her, “Is the room paid for by FEMA?”
She answered, “Yes.”
“Does he have his drivers license?”
“Why won’t you let him in?”
“He has no FEMA ID.”
“Well,” I said, “how would you like the news there?” No problem he is in. The next day my friend made a bad choice not to go back to the hotel and instead slept in his home without electricity. The weather was cold and he froze to death sleeping on a raw mattress with out a blanket. I was so mad. The lost of human compassion had taken his life. I sat with him for eight hours waiting for the coroner to arrive, tears running from my eyes.
An interview with Mr. Washington: Q1zj3mXpKgs&t=27s
Katrina Two Years Later (including interview with Mr. Washington).