On Thursday, the it was announced that the FEMA would give out debit cards with $2,000 for each evacuee from Hurricane Katrina. That resulted in a bit of chaos in Houston, where many evacuees lined up to receive help.
MSNBC's Dan Abrams spoke on Thursday evening with NBC correspondent Janet Shamlian, who was on the scene in Houston where many of the cards were distributed.
To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.
DAN ABRAMS: Janet this is a lot of money. ... How are they deciding exactly who gets it?
JANET SHAMLIAN: ... It is $2,000 per adult evacuee. Few questions asked. You have to have identification, which if you checked in here and have been sheltered here, you're going to have.
You have to have your wristband. They're not going to take anybody off site and that's not good news for people staying in hotels and motels. If they left Louisiana, certainly need the cash as well. But they are starting with the people on site and they have several questions they ask including for some identification.
ABRAMS: But wait. But Janet, aren't the people who are in other places, not in Houston, you know if they're in Baton Rouge or if they have gone to Mobile or wherever it is and let's say, for example, they're even paying the last bits of money they have for hotels, are they going to be entitled to this money as well?
SHAMLIAN: They are and that's why people are showing up here. Like you said, they need the cash. But FEMA and the Red Cross says it's starting kind of testing Houston as its testing ground and then they will be in Baton Rouge and New Orleans and Mississippi and Alabama, but they're starting here now. Of course, other people are in desperate need of that cash as well, but they're rolling it out slowly. ... And as you saw today, they have problems already.
Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.