Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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FEMA now says some people won't get an MHU until 2017

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BATON ROUGE- At a news conference Thursday, FEMA announced the agency is so backlogged trying to get manufactured housing units here, some flood victims who qualified won't get them until next year.

The lack of inventory was highlighted in a WBRZ Investigative Unit report Wednesday. Emails we obtained showed a Branch Director from FEMA wrote to Central Mayor Junior Shelton there was no inventory, and there was no excuse.

Vickie Thornton long time Denham Springs home flooded in August. She quickly applied for a FEMA housing unit. Her yard was staked out where two site inspections were done, but more than a month after her inspections she's still waiting.

"Seems like they're not communicating with each other at all, because every single person will say something different every single time," Thornton said.

Wednesday, Lavone Hatch echoed those same sentiments. She's in the same exact position as Thornton. She applied for a FEMA housing unit back in September but is still waiting.

"It is a big joke, all of it," Hatch said.

Thornton was so frustrated after our report, she contacted FEMA herself. FEMA gave her an answer that left her scratching her head.

"(FEMA said) I know it's hard not to pay attention to the news, but just don't pay attention," Thornton recalled a FEMA worker telling her on the phone.

During a news conference Thursday, FEMA said the job ahead of them is enormous and they've ordered more trailers but can't get them here fast enough to accommodate all 5,300 people who qualified for them. The agency acknowledged it was out of inventory when those emails were sent on Monday and Tuesday.

"Most probably, yeah," Tito Hernandez with FEMA said when questioned about it.

FEMA says the agency knows it hasn't been forthcoming with flood victims, something it is now working on.

"We're bringing transparency to the process," Hernandez said. "We understand that we haven't been transparent with our survivors in telling them exactly what we are doing with our internal processes. We established a call center, and as of today as received 4600 calls."

Although some people may have been told a trailer was coming in 15 days, FEMA is now saying that may not happen anytime fast.

"We have people that will be waiting for a unit until next year," Hernandez said.

FEMA says it has purchased at least 200 units from dealers in Louisiana in hopes of getting them to flood victims quickly. Another 3,700 units have been ordered from around the country.


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