FEMA Paid For 315 Funerals for 123 Deaths

Federal taxpayers paid for 315 funerals for last year’s Florida hurricanes, even though only 123 fatalities were attributed to them.

FEMA’s funeral bills questioned (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Florida officially recorded 123 fatalities from last year’s hurricanes, but the federal government has paid funeral expenses for at least 315 deaths, including those of a man who shot himself and a stroke victim hospitalized more than a week before the last storm hit. In one case, a Federal Emergency Management Agency worker tried unsuccessfully to persuade a coroner to count among the hurricane casualties a “morbidly obese” heart patient who purportedly was “scared to death.”

“If you were to call around to all the medical examiner offices, people would say, ‘No way did we have as many deaths as FEMA is saying,’ ” said Dr. Stephen Nelson, head of Florida’s Medical Examiners Commission. “It’s just an incredible number — a difference of 192. This is the Free Funeral Payment Act.”

The discrepancy is even greater because the families of some victims counted as storm casualties by the medical examiner said they received no help from FEMA, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found.

While this is embarrasing for FEMA, their payment of questionable claims is understandable. The last thing they want to do is create a lot of red tape for the families of dead people in the wake of a series of natural disasters. Those who bilked the taxpayers to get free funerals should be ashamed of themselves, however.

via Fox Special Report (television-no link)

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.