Residents of a temporary trailer park for Hurricane Charley victims now have access to many of the services they lacked when they first moved in, according to a report in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is leasing about 350 trailers in the park at the former Stay-N-Play RV Park in Venice, just south of Sarasota on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The park had been vacant for two years before FEMA moved residents in from several counties after the Aug. 13 storm. More than 300 people are staying there.
When residents arrived after Hurricane Charley, the park lacked basic amenities such as laundry, bus service and access to medicine. It was also infested with red ants and mosquitoes.
Complaints from volunteers at the site resulted in a Sept. 10 visit from U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key, and Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, who pledged that conditions would improve.
The Sarasota County Health Department installed a trailer at the park two weeks ago to provide medical services, department administrator William Little said. The county has made arrangements to provide mental health counseling as well, he said.
Park owner J&J Homes has agreed to allow residents to use the park’s laundry facilities, Little said. And shuttle buses are now available to connect residents to public transportation, he said.
Pest control specialists have been sent to the park as well, Little said. The county has coordinated with nonprofit groups to provide housewares and bedsheets to residents who need them, he said.
Many park residents still need day-care services, but the county is working with private agencies to provide it, Little said.
“Your very first need is to get shelter over your head, then you get a second set of needs,” he said. “It took us a few days to see what the need was.”
FEMA’s lease with J&J Homes lasts until Dec. 18, Venice City Manager Marty Black said. The city has extended a temporary use permit at the site for 30 days past that date, which would allow FEMA to stay past the holidays.
Black said the temporary use permit allows the city to extend garbage and water services to the park until mid–January.
“We don’t want to kick these people out during the holiday season,” Black said.