After more than four years as fixtures on the Pine Belt landscape, thousands of trailers and mobile homes used as emergency housing following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina are expected to be gone by early fall.

More than 28,000 trailers scattered among five Federal Emergency Management Agency staging areas in Mississippi’s Lamar, Forrest and Marion counties are being auctioned off in large, single lots by the U.S. General Services Administration, according to the Jackson Clarion ledger.

The mass sale marks the beginning of the end for the majority of the staging areas, signaling another step forward in south Mississippi’s recovery from the 2005 storm.

“We’re winding down,” said John Gossman, FEMA’s Temporary Housing Unit field coordinator for the central region. “(The reduction) has been going on for quite a while.”

It will take a while more for the staging areas to be cleared.

This past fall, GSA began rotating auctions at each of the five staging areas: Carnes in Forrest County; Columbia in Marion County; and Lumberton, Hickory Grove and Purvis in Lamar County.

Each area was tapped twice, with single lots of between 400 and 500 trailers up for sale at a time.

But this time is different, with simultaneous auctions held at all five sites and thousands of trailers and mobile homes up for auction. The multiple auctions end Friday (Jan. 15).

“This is the major chunk of them,” said Yvette Caraway, sales lead at the staging area in Purvis where 2,713 trailers are being sold. “We’ll have a few things left, but after these are (moved), then we’ll be about done.”

Buyers must conform to GSA guidelines in removing the trailers. Tom Turner, lead sales coordinator for the central region, said that could mean a steady stream of 30 to 50 trailers pulled per day from each of the sites.

Gossman said it likely would be the end of September before the massive shift from the staging sites would be completed.

“But all of them should be empty by Sept. 30 or Oct. 1,” he said.

The trailers and mobile homes range from very good to poor condition. Gossman said some were in such bad shape they will be sold for scrap later this year.