People looking for campsites in Mississippi may have to scrounge for space this summer, according to a report in the Hattiesburg American.
Depending on what site a camper chooses, space could be in short supply due to the large number of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers and contractors that descended on the area after Hurricane Katrina.
Paul B. Johnson State Park in Hattiesburg has 125 sites and 44 of them are taken by FEMA trailers, park manager Buddy Nelson said. The camp also serves as home for many contract workers involved with hurricane efforts. The contractors are residing in trailers and campers.
The park still has about 20 sites open for campers, about 10 of which can be reserved.
Nelson said FEMA pays for their campers, and the contractors foot their own bill. So, while having FEMA at the campsite doesn’t impact the park financially, Nelson said he does miss the regular customers, who likely will have to seek space elsewhere this summer.
“It’s going to probably be a little frustrating finding places to camp, not only in state parks but everywhere,” he said.
More campers are expected to head to the area around Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day, making the search for space even harder, Nelson said.
Yvonne Smith, manager of Shady Cove RV Park, said camp space also has been limited at her location, which is north of Hattiesburg.
Currently, Smith said she has three sites out of 45 available, but she was not sure how many FEMA and contractor trailers are using her site.
Smith said this normally is a busy time of year for the park, and she – like Nelson – plans to be booked for all the upcoming summer holidays.
FEMA trailers and contractors haven’t had as great of an impact on the parks managed by the Pat Harrison Waterway District, a Mississippi state agency that provides camping, cabins and recreational facilities.
Chris Bowen, executive director, said only about 28% of the agency’s 600 sites throughout the states are occupied by FEMA trailers.
He said he expects to see fewer FEMA trailers as people find homes and as FEMA downsizes its operation after debris removal is completed.