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Travel trailers continue to be shipped to Mississippi by the thousands, but state officials claims there is still a pressing need for temporary housing to accommodate Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
According to the Jackson Clarion Ledger, as of Tuesday (Oct. 4), 6,710 travel trailers had been delivered to Mississippi and 3,369 families had moved in. But those families represent less than a tenth of what Gov. Haley Barbour predicted the state will need to house displaced residents.
“It just shows you the level of need,” said Mike Kidder, spokesman for San Francisco-based engineering and construction company Bechtel Group, which was awarded the contract from FEMA to deliver and install the trailers.
FEMA set a goal of delivering 500 homes to the state per day, and agency spokesman James McIntyre said that goal is being met. Kidder said the scope of the disaster presents a “daunting challenge” to the company.
Homes may be flowing into the region, but some said they haven’t come quickly enough.
FEMA and Bechtel officials said getting the trailers hooked up to utilities has been more time-consuming than expected.
“We have been able to deliver more trailers than we have hooked up right now,” Kidder said.
Bechtel has employed 1,600 people, most from Mississippi, to haul trailers onto sites and install them. McIntyre said FEMA has internal goals for placing families in homes, but it is “not a goal we want to publish.”
Not everyone made homeless by Katrina is waiting in line for a home. FEMA Division Director Mike Beeman said the agency has approved 26,000 applications for temporary rental assistance for residents who have moved into apartments or rental homes.
“This is an alternative to getting trailers,” he said. “When people say they are not getting trailers, many are choosing another program.”
Another housing alternative is anchored in Pascagoula. The Carnival Cruise ship Holiday has 1,347 cabins occupied by displaced Gulf Coast residents, with another 501 cabins still to be filled.
Carnival spokesman Eugene Brezany said some people come aboard, stay a few days and leave when they secure more permanent housing.