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With hundreds still homeless, FEMA trailers remain unused

7 years 10 months 2 days ago Tuesday, September 13 2016 Sep 13, 2016 September 13, 2016 11:12 PM September 13, 2016 in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Brett Buffington and Trey Couvillion

BATON ROUGE - FEMA is trying to come up with answers as to why an extensive number of modular homes set aside for flood victims have remained unused. Tonight, more than 100 modular units still sit empty since showing up to the drop site.

At a town hall meeting this evening in Watson, a spokesperson for FEMA said they are slowing transitioning to a recovery effort. The spokesperson also said they are working with local agencies to place the units in a safe location.

"We're slowly turning from response to recovery. This is going to be a long time effort," the spokesman said. "The thing with the manufactured house units, is that we have to work with the state and local officials that we put it in a safe place."

But News 2 was told similar information from a FEMA employee about a month ago. Willie Nunn, who is in charge of the units, said in August that they were looking to inspect the sites for the temporary homes back when they arrived.

"Yes, we're looking to make sure that the house is environmentally sound. We have to go out and inspect the site," Nunn said.

The inspection is supposed to include a check from FEMA to ensure the unit is not placed in a flood plain. But this unit on Fairlane Drive in Denham Springs, marked on FEMA's own map as a designated flood zone. And still a month later, FEMA is having a hard time explaining why these homes have not been put to use.

"It takes a while to install one at a location, we can't just make a home available in 24 hours," said the spokesman.

A month earlier though, Nunn said they were ready.

"We have them here, we have to folks here ready to take them out to the sites where we need to have them."

One thing that FEMA has had a consistent answer with is insisting the modular homes are a last resort for flood victims. FEMA has instructed families to find hotels. After calling 10 hotels in the Baton Rouge area, News 2 found none that could accommodate an extended stay. But tonight, FEMA's final answer as to why the tax payer funded homes still sit parked, is less than informing.

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