The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is adding another park along Florida’s Gulf Coast to accommodate victims from last summer’s Hurricane Charley, according to the Charlotte Sun-Herald.
The new facility will be the third site erected in ravaged DeSoto County, located just inland from the coast and north of the Fort Myers area where Charley made land. According to local officials, the county has received more than 1,000 temporary housing units, including travel trailers bought by FEMA from RV manufacturers and area dealers.
FEMA said the park should be ready for occupancy around Aug. 1. “This will have a capacity of 125 units,” Eugene Brezany of FEMA said, “but we’re anticipating starting with closer to 100.”
After last year’s Aug. 13 hurricane, slightly more than 100 percent of DeSoto County residents registered with FEMA for assistance. The more-than-100 percent figure comes from the fact that many damaged homes housed more than one family, and each family could seek help.
The estimate is that half of all dwellings in DeSoto were severely damaged or destroyed by the hurricane.
“The reason we’re doing this (additional housing),” Brezany said, “is that this was the worst series of disasters to hit this nation in more than 100 years. The storms were so severe and devastating that they eliminated vast amounts of housing in DeSoto County.”
Occupants moving into the FEMA parks were told they had until February of 2006 to find new housing. All leases would expire 18 months after the declaration of emergency in August.
Many park residents have spoken of the difficulty in finding housing.
In DeSoto County, much of the so-called affordable housing was seriously damaged or destroyed by Charley. New dwellings have not replaced those that were demolished. And prices, both for rental and ownership, have risen sharply as Florida experiences an ongoing real estate boom.