2,000 Texas Families Moving to FEMA Trailers

October 24, 2008

Texas state officials are working to locate housing for 400 Hurricane Ike victims living in a Red Cross shelter scheduled to close Oct. 26, according to a newspaper report.

Meanwhile, 2,000 people, primarily in Galveston and East Texas, are expected to move into federal government-supplied mobile homes while they rebuild from Ike, the Houston Chronicle reported in its online edition.

Sandy Coachman, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s federal coordinating officer, said the state had decided to take over Galveston’s only remaining shelter and keep it open. Some of the residents said they have no place to live after the shelter closes.

However, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry said the state is working with a nonprofit group, Baptist Children and Family Services of San Antonio, to find housing for shelter residents.

Krista Pifferrer, a spokeswoman for the Baptist group, said it was uncertain whether the current shelter would remain open, another would open elsewhere or the families would be relocated to hotels or apartments.

After Ike hit the region on Sept. 13, flooding left thousands in southeast Texas with uninhabitable homes.

FEMA officials said about 1,150 more families have requested and are eligible for the trailers. Right now only about 150 families are living in FEMA trailers.

Alicia Cahill, a spokeswoman for the city of Galveston, said Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas has asked FEMA for 500 mobile homes for island residents whose homes remain uninhabitable more than five weeks after Ike made landfall.

A FEMA official said 300 of the eligible families live in Galveston County.

FEMA has come under fire for extensive delays in getting trailers to homeless and displaced Texans. FEMA officials say health concerns contributed to the delay.

Formaldehyde, a chemical linked to cancer and respiratory disease, was found in FEMA trailers that housed thousands after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina in 2005, leading to lawsuits.

“We’re testing every mobile home to make sure it meets the limits as set by Governor Perry,” said FEMA spokesman Don Jacks.

Meanwhile, FEMA has extended its free hotel and motel program for Ike victims, which was scheduled to end on Nov. 1 until Nov. 30.

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