FEMA says 5,000 trailers will stay put in Arkansas
WASHINGTON – The government has no plans to move at least half of the 10,000 emergency housing trailers sitting empty in Hope, Ark., saying they may be needed for the 2006 hurricane season.The Federal Emergency Management Agency detailed its plan to keep the trailers at the Hope municipal airport in a letter to Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who had asked that some of the trailers be used for American Indian housing.The letter did not mention Johnson’s request, but FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said Friday that federal law says the trailers must be used for disaster victims.The trailers originally were purchased to house people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. But FEMA officials later said that regulations against placing the homes in flood plains prevented their use on the Gulf Coast.Johnson said the agency is hoarding the trailers and ignoring an urgent need for housing in other areas of the country. If they couldn’t be used for Katrina, he said, it is unlikely they will be used for another disaster this year.”It’s clear that they overpurchased for Katrina,” Johnson said. “These trailers are going to be wasted resources.”What they are doing with the other half of the Arkansas trailers is unclear from the letter.Pamela J. Turner, assistant secretary for legislative and intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, writes that “FEMA is moving a portion of the inventory to northern climates, where mobile homes are, because of their improved capability to weather colder northern winters, more frequently used.”Turner also writes that a portion of the mobile home inventory “may also be moved to a predetermined site where they would offer a strategically based pre-positioned inventory to serve disasters in the Western states.”She does not specify where they will be moved. But FEMA spokesman Walker said they will be stationed around the country – including Alabama, New Jersey and Northern Plains states – in case of disasters in those areas.The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general said last month that U.S. taxpayers could be stuck with a maintenance bill of nearly $47 million a year for thousands of mobile homes that sit parked at sites around the country.—On the Net:Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.govFederal Emergency Management Agency: http://www.fema.govVail, Colorado
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