As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) delivered 300 travel trailers to Slidell, La., Sunday Oct. 2), setting up 22 at private residences, St. Tammany Parish took one small step closer to getting the temporary housing Parish President Kevin Davis has been pleading for.
But, according to the Slidell Sentry News, Davis threatened the next day to cut all ties with FEMA, after an agency spokeswoman alleged Davis was attempting to profit from the placement of the trailers in St. Tammany.
In an interview with CNN, FEMA spokeswoman Nicol Andrews claimed Davis was slowing the process of getting temporary housing to St. Tammany by recommending his construction company be hired to develop a property at Lakeshore Estates in Slidell, off Interstate 10 near Lake Pontchartrain. Davis has personal connections to the property, Andrews said.
In addition, Andrews said, Davis had asked FEMA to pay $7,000 per acre per month for the property, more than four times its value.
“The FEMA spokesperson is a liar. I do not own a construction company. I did not attempt to lease land to FEMA. The only land I own is the lot my flooded home sits on,” Davis said in an angry response to Andrews’ statements.
“This is absurd,” he said. “I want to find housing for the people of St. Tammany Parish. I do not want to spend my time refuting idiotic statements from FEMA spokespersons. I expect an immediate, full and public apology, and then I want to get back to work. People here need housing, not words.”
By yesterday morning, Davis had his apology.
“I did get my apology, so that’s over with,” Davis said yesterday. But it’s no secret Davis would like to see things happening more quickly. He estimates approximately 23,000 St. Tammany families are left without livable homes following Hurricane Katrina.
Immediately following the storm, Davis began requesting temporary housing from FEMA, and he is hoping to move as many trailers as possible into the parish daily in order to expedite housing to residents. As of yesterday, FEMA had delivered 22 travel trailers to private residences in St. Tammany.
“We are excited today because trailers are actually going to people’s homes,” Davis told parish and municipal officials yesterday.
Lakeshore Estates in Slidell is currently serving as a staging area for trailers, as FEMA verifies residents meet regulations to accept the trailers on their home sites, which includes having access to sewer, water and power. The trailers will remain at the staging area until sites are secured for them on private residential property.