04/03/2008 12:01 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Government Floods City, Then Poisons Survivors

That would be the tabloid, but not entirely inaccurate, version of the New Orleans story to date.

The first half--the city being flooded by the poor design and construction of the Corps of Engineers' "flood control system", should be well-known to Americans by now, if we lived in an alternative universe. In that same universe, the unfolding scandal of the FEMA trailers would be front-page news (Instead, the Tribune Compay's new "innovation guru" is busy making front pages the place where you go to find maps).

In this universe, there's almost no coverage outside the affected area of the growing state of the scandal: the CDC announcing a five-year health study of the effects of FEMA-trailer formaldehyde on children, and its toxic-substance director in effect apologizing for the agency's lateness in realizing the scope of the problem; and the fact that CDC"s own top toxicologist warned of the danger of trailer fumes, and his warnings were ignored.

The plain fact is that citizens of the United States who relied on federal assurances of safety and flood protection were misled (to put it mildly), then relied on federally provided "temporary" housing (for more than two years), only to find the interior air of those housing units seriously compromised, to the detriment of their and their children's health. If this ain't a scandal of breathtaking proportions, what is? Britney's knickers catching fire?