A small auto dealer in Inverness, Fla., is hoping the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will follow through on its offer to purchase 500 travel trailer for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
According to a report in the St. Petersburg Times, Jeffrey LaVerne of Como Auto Sales placed the order after receiving a call from FEMA last week offering to buy all the travel trailers the dealership could gather.
“This is a huge influx of income for us,” said Laverne, who can’t remember ever selling more than one trailer at a time.
But as of Monday (Sept. 13), Laverne had only received purchase orders for four trailers. FEMA, he said, has put a hold on the operation.
“I’m sitting here breaking into a sweat, trying to figure out where I’m going to put all these trailers,” he said.
The trailers are expected to arrive by the end of the month, straight from an Indiana factory.
Like dealerships across the country, Como Auto Sales has been tapped by the federal disaster relief agency to provide trailers and coaches to serve as stopgap housing for thousands of people who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and cannot afford to pay for other temporary quarters.
With an estimated 141,000 still housed in emergency shelters, FEMA has requested from dealerships nationwide thousands of travel trailers and mobile homes for the recovery effort. The number of people who will need temporary housing is expected to exceed previous records.
Laverne, a longtime resident of Citrus County, said owners Rick and Dawn Como want to help in the recovery efforts but now he worries that the dealership might have trouble if FEMA doesn’t come through with paperwork for the other 496 trailers that are coming his way.
“This is really frustrating,” Laverne said. “I’ll have to find a way to pay for (the travel trailers) or I could lose my franchise.”