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Debbie Preston drives through Conklin, N.Y., after dark every night. What the town supervisor misses are the lights from homes in the town’s flood-ravaged neighborhoods, according to a report in the Press & Sun Bulletin, Binghamton.
But with Monday’s announcement that homeowners in the New York state region are now eligible for travel trailers as temporary housing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), she expects to see lights again soon.
“From the mental health end of it, this is going to be a big boost,” said Preston, whose own home was wrecked by floodwaters in late June. Preston, who rented a trailer to put on her property after the flooding, said she’d likely get one of the FEMA trailers.
Preston said the need for the temporary travel trailers would go well beyond the 100 she compiled as an early estimate in Conklin, one of the region’s most devastated communities.
FEMA officials said that as of Monday, 20 eligible homeowners had been located as potential users of the trailers. People could have the trailers as early as next week, said Marianne C. Jackson, a FEMA coordinating officer. There’s an unlimited supply of the travel trailers, which are coming from New Jersey, Jackson said.
FEMA officials declined to estimate how many homeowners would be eligible for the trailers. To date, 3,496 households in Broome County have registered with FEMA, which has handed out $12 million so far in flood aid. In Chenango County, 843 households had applied, and 643 in Tioga, FEMA officials told a group of nonprofit agencies and government representatives who meet weekly at the United Way of Broome County to coordinate local flood efforts. The deadline to apply for flood aid is Sept. 1, FEMA representatives said.
Flood victims eligible for the travel trailers and who have already signed up for flood aid through FEMA and New York state will be contacted by FEMA, Jackson said. Those who haven’t signed up for flood aid, need to contact FEMA and the state in order to see if they qualify for flood aid.
To qualify for a trailer, an applicant must be a homeowner with enough room on his or her property for an 8-foot-by-30-foot trailer. There must be access to electricity and sewer, which FEMA will pay contractors to hook up, Jackson said. And a FEMA inspector has to inspect the property before travel trailer use is approved. If approval is granted, FEMA will deliver and set up the trailers, Jackson said.
The trailers sleep up to six people and include a queen-sized bed, double bunks, a sleeper sofa, one shower, sink and toilet and a small kitchen. They are air-conditioned and use propane gas for cooking and heating. They even have a microwave oven.
But the travel trailers aren’t built to withstand a Southern Tier winter. They can be used up to four months, FEMA officials said, but are not intended as permanent housing. The goal is for homeowners to live in the trailers on their property while fixing or rebuilding their homes nearby, Jackson said.
Preston is positive that will happen. “A lot can be accomplished in three months,” the supervisor said.