Hurricane Florence victims in North Carolina are beginning to receive temporary housing units from FEMA.
More than 100 mobile homes and travel trailers filled lots Thursday morning at a staging area in Lenoir County. Hundreds of additional units are on the way.
The first delivery took place Sunday with more than a dozen expected to be installed by the end of the week.
“We have to determine that a site is suitable, that a unit will fit there, that they have gas, water, and sewer, and then we make plans to take that unit there and have it installed,” FEMA spokesperson Mike Wade said.
“We have interviewed somewhere around in excess of 700 households that may in fact be eligible to receive some type of unit from us.”
People in Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Jones, Onslow, Pender, New Hanover, and Robeson Counties are eligible for the temporary housing units. Wade said there is an intentional effort to purchase the trailers from dealerships in those counties if possible, or from other North Carolina sellers, as a way to support the local economy.
All of the temporary housing units are brand new. Travel trailers are intended for up to six months of use while the mobile homes are for up to 18 months.
“Everything that we do is obviously temporary. Our goal is for them to make their recovery plans, find a more permanent place to live. If it’s their home that was damaged, it allows them that time to continue to make long-term repairs to their property,” Wade said.
“We actually provide them with what we call a living a kit that has linens, silverware, a broom, dustpan, basics that will get them up and running for maybe a week or so before they can start recouping some of the belongings that they’ve lost,” he said.
“We’re here to support the state of North Carolina, and the citizens of North Carolina, and provide them a hand up to try to get them back to some sort of normalcy in their life.”
FEMA received a lot of criticism for many trailers given to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Congressional hearings in 2008 took the agency to task for some of the trailers and the toxic dangers they posed to those living inside.
A federal judge approved a $42.6 million class-action settlement in 2012 to pay victims of the 2005 storms who claimed they were exposed to hazardous fumes while living in the temporary housing.