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One selling point often used in the search for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailer sites in Louisiana is that the trailer cities will last only about 18 months.
But, according to a report in The Advocate, Baton Rouge, FEMA’s estimate is not being met in Florida.
The Sunshine state was raked by four powerful hurricanes in 2004 and at one point nearly 18,000 mobile homes and travel trailers dotted the devastated areas.
As deadlines kick in – this coming week for Charley evacuees and the middle of next month for Ivan victims – FEMA will begin to charge market-based rents, according to agency spokeswoman Nicol Andrews. FEMA, however, has extended the availability of temporary housing until Sept. 26.
In a Feb. 7 memo forwarded by Andrews to The Advocate in response to questions, FEMA Acting Recovery Division Director David Garrett says: “We are determined the extension is reasonable because of the continued lack of housing resources in the immediate area and the unreasonable commuting distance between where these applicants work and the areas where housing resources are available and/or affordable.”
Meanwhile, FEMA contractors searching for trailer sitesto house Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Louisiana have found few welcome mats as parishes are enacting bans against emergency housing developments.
FEMA Baton Rouge recovery office spokesman James McIntyre said Friday that, at this point, temporary housing in Louisiana will last for 18 months. “There has been no determination after that” but the agency will work with Louisiana officials to provide “whatever they need for as long as they need.”
That statement mirrors the situation in Florida. Karen Szulczewski, public information officer for FEMA operations in Pensacola, Fla., said a lack of affordable housing continues to haunt the effort to get people out of agency-supplied housing.
In Escambia County, which includes the city of Pensacola, 42% of the families placed in trailers are still there as late as this past week.
Statewide, there are 5,110 trailers still being used by hurricane evacuees, including those in the Pensacola area, according to FEMA’s Florida Recovery Office in Orlando.