Take a Hike FEMA

St. Rose wants trailers removed

Residents living in St. Rose want FEMA trailers that were permitted after Hurricane Katrina to be removed from their community.

St. Charles Parish sustained moderate hurricane damage, according to parish officials, but residents are concerned that because the trailers are still here, some people may be taking advantage of the situation.

“There are 238 FEMA trailers in St. Charles Parish and 232 of those are on private property, which means people who have them are still fixing up their homes and rebuilding since Katrina,” Andrew Thomas, spokesman for the Louisiana Transitional Recovery Office said. “We’re not going to be insensitive to the point that if residents are still repairing their home, like waiting on plumbing or utilities, that we’ll just take the trailer.”

Thomas addressed rumors that some people may be leasing or renting the trailers as their own, and collecting rent from Katrina evacuees.

“This is a crime and its called fraud,” he said. “We don’t want residents using these trailers to supplement their incomes and we hope no one is taking advantage of the system in this way.”

Thomas says his office works directly with parish officials to set reasonable deadlines for the removal of the trailers.
“FEMA was supposed to have all of the trailers moved out the parish by Oct. 1, 2007,” Earl Matherne, coastal zone administrator, said. “They did allow for one 30-day extension, which means the absolute deadline was Nov. 1.”

Matherne says 90 percent of the trailers that are on private property are placed there by the homeowner. Relatives, who had no place to go after Katrina, live in them.

“I spoke with FEMA and they informed me that their goal is to have all of them removed by June 1, but if people can show that they’re waiting on Road Home Money, or that they’re in a battle with their insurance company and haven’t gotten things resolved since Katrina, the trailers can stay,” Matherne said.

Thomas says residents had to be registered for FEMA, show proof of address prior to the hurricane and be in an affected parish in order to use the trailers.

“Recertification teams come out every 90 days and meet with the families to see how much progress they’ve made on their home,” he said. “They ask the family to continue to seek a long term housing plan.”

Marousek says there were 1,145 trailer permits issued in 2005 after Katrina.
“That number also includes trailers used by some of the chemical plants to house workers,” she said. “After meeting with the St. Rose community, I do know they want them gone.”
Thomas says that FEMA would like all of the trailers returned by the start of the hurricane season.

“We do plan on working with the families that really need the trailers,” he said. “But they have to show the recertification team that they are making some type of effort to secure housing on their own.”

Matherne says the pendulum sometimes swings both ways concerning the removal of the trailers.
“First people say they don’t want them,” he said. “Then when we send out letters letting them know there is a deadline in place to come and pick up the trailers, they get upset about it.”


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