FEMA official apologizes to parish chief
Agency: Local official wasn't trying to capitalize on Katrina
St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis got the apology he sought.
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(CNN) -- An official from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has apologized to the president of Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish after a dispute over temporary residences, but the area still faces a housing crunch after Hurricane Katrina.
The dispute involved a FEMA claim that parish President Kevin Davis had recommended the agency hire a construction company he owns to develop a property to house displaced residents.
"I want to apologize for anything I said that was inaccurate or ill-informed," said Nicol Andrews, deputy director of communications for the agency, in an e-mail sent Monday night to Davis and made public Tuesday.
"I sincerely hope that from today forward our staffs can continue to build a strong working relationship, because it will take everyone participating in the mission to work together to meet the goals we are all striving to achieve," she said.
FEMA had told CNN on Sunday that the agency soon expected to have more than 1,000 housing units in place in the area, but that Davis had contributed to delays because he recommended to the agency that his construction company be hired to develop a property to which he has ties.
Davis on Monday demanded an apology, saying he does not own a construction company and that he owns no land other than the site of his flooded home. (Full story)
Andrews told CNN on Tuesday that the agency's claim that Davis owned a construction company proved to be "misinformation."
But the apology has not resolved the area's housing problems, and a number of parish residents remain in shelters and in tents, Davis' executive counsel, Rob Barnett, told CNN.
Barnett said the parish asked FEMA more than two weeks ago for 23,000 travel trailers but, as of Tuesday, had received just 300.
FEMA's Andrews said the agency has 120,000 travel trailers "ready to move into the region. We're just waiting for sites to be available to install them."
Some 40,000 of St. Tammany Parish's 225,000 residents lost their homes after Katrina, Barnett said.
Since the floods, another 75,000 people have crowded into the parish, heightening competition -- and prices -- for the remaining housing stock, he said.
The FEMA dispute began Sunday when Davis told CNN's "Late Edition" that the agency was continuing to mismanage the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Davis described as "wonderful" the FEMA employees assigned to his parish along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain.
"It's the bureaucratic part that, once they make the request for me on my behalf, for the past five weeks, I don't get a response," Davis said.
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