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FEMA Says No to Trailers in New York City

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Federal disaster relief officials have ruled out deploying mobile homes to shelter city residents whose own homes have been damaged or destroyed by Sandy. Instead, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will rely on a combination of hotels, rental assistance and a new home repair program run by the city.

Volunteers helping to reconstruct homes in the Rockaways and Staten Island have argued that trailers or other structures would help storm victims there achieve one goal: staying close to their homes to oversee repairs. But FEMA says there is not enough commercial property nearby where temporary housing could be set up.

"There aren't alot of pieces of property that are outside of the flood plain, close to where the impacted people are," Federal Coordinating Officer Michael Byrne said. 

Instead, the main way the government plans to house storm victims is by providing financial assistance so that victims can rent a new home. Byrne said FEMA has determined that enough vacant apartments are located within 5 to 10 miles of the affected areas to meet the demand for housing. The city also recently convinced several affordable housing landlords to set aside about 2,500 apartments for storm victims, though many are in distant areas such as the northwest Bronx. Landlords acknowledge that it could be challenging to convince people to live far away from their homes and jobs, and their children's school.

In New Jersey, FEMA says rental assistance will also serve as the main way of housing storm victims. The federal agency says, so far it's located 7,000 vacant apartments, and is also helping the state retrofit a former military camp near Oceanport that will eventually shelter storm victims.  While FEMA brought in 40 trailers to the town of Jackson before the storm, the agency says the state has made no requests to put those into use, and that there are no plans for other temporary structures in the state either. 

New Jersey Congressman Frank Pallone called the decision not to provide trailers disturbing, and criticized FEMA for a lack of housing options.

"It is outrageous that there is not enough housing available for Sandy victims," Pallone said in a statement, "and even more confounding that FEMA is suggesting that housing stocks are adequate."

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Comments [4]

theresa sahaj from Staten Island, NY

We have two families that need trailers to live, while their homes are going to be built. Could you please call me at 347-733-7190. My name is, Theresa Sahaj, and I'm the Public Relations lady, who needs to speake with someone in order to get two trailers for two familes in Staten Island. While their homes will be rebuilt. Please contact me again at:347-733-7190. Is there anyone out there to help the people.

Apr. 02 2013 07:22 PM
Jim In FLA


It's amazing, Two Hurricanes and New Yorkers are specialists in Disaster and better Knowledge then FEMA, New Yorkers knew better to demand the lights be kept on as long as possible on the grid in flood prone areas,and gas, Results, 80 houses up in flames( Oh and being an area of First Responders, they still don't know why it happened), or why even families were allowed to be in the area that evening.
Had they listen to maybe Florida Power and Light(FPL) Reps on the ground that day pleaded with LIPAL of the storm to cut power,gas, 75% of the transformers, down wouldn't have exploded hot and could have been recovered. As to why you wouldn't put trailers back into a community that had an unexplained explosion is simple, down underground that entire area needs to be checked as whether something is old and compromised secondly the minute you let people put trailers in drive ways they will be residing in homes still not fit for living, running extension cords, all sort of crazy half ass hookups, a nightmare waiting to happen.
When you live on a coastal region you are giving up certain inland rights by your own doing or laws and effects of nature you Can not control. FEMA has dealt with since Hurricane Andrew, an unprecedented amount of disasters, have they been on the mark every-time?, no! Pick your poison, would rather have them (FEMA)under a federal grant clean up asbestos that most certainly shouldn't be in a water prone area, or have The Insurance Companies say no to a homeowners Policy because of mitigating contaminant? No less 3/4 of the homes we all saw on TV would never pass a Florida Wind Mitigation Insurance Inspection, just from visually seeing them on TV.. But once again the center of universe knows all, not any of us with tested and tried experience in these matters, what will it take for New Yorkers to learn everything can't be done in a New York minute. Is it cold yes I'm sure it is and that we all in Florida we know is the most difficult aspect. We can get cool after a storm with a shower form a garden hose, For you guys getting warm is much harder, but every area fairs differently after a disaster, it shows your vulnerabilities, but that also should be a wake up call for energy sources, that don't require a grid, no its just sucks, but you adapt, that's human.

Dec. 12 2012 10:38 AM
MisterC from FLorida

Simple solution - put them in parking garages. You need to keep the lights on, have police patrols and run some wate and sewre lines Or lot of portapaotties. Think of how many trailers can you put in a six-story parking garage.

Gotta think outside the box folks....

Dec. 10 2012 04:25 PM
Stephanie from Warwick, RI

I grew up in Belle Harbor, Rockaways. This is BEYOND disgusting! For more than a month, many people have been staying in their homes - without heat, electricity, phone service, some with mold climbing up the walls! I can not fathom that neither the (useless and invisible) Red Cross, FEMA, National Guard NO ONE can figure out how to have warm/dry places for people to stay close to their homes to work on them as well as be tehre for repair people, and agencies to visit them! There has yet to be a shelter for The Rock!

They COULD have set them up at Floyd Bennet Field - and if they had not piled garbage onto the parking lots of Riis Park that might have been a good place too! I understand that they don't want to place them in a 'flood zone' but people are alreadt living in that flood zone in the conditions I described. Can someone explain to me how it is not better to be in a warm/dry trailer than a cold, damp, moldy, dark apartment? How does that make sense on ANY level! The people of The Rockaways are being treated worse than criminals in jail - in jail you get '3 hots and a cot' - they have NOTHING! They literally do not have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of!

What on earth does FEMA DO anyway? They had a tent set up and when the Noreaster hit - they put up a sign 'closed due to bad weather'! The folks in The Rock were still there, toughing it out with NOTHING! They showed up late in The Rockaways, it is ony VERY recently that they expressed concern abut the asbestos in people's homes even though people have been removingit unpervised with volunteers since the day after the storm hit! I feel like my head is going to explode daily reading this kind of crap!
And no, I doubt that people in The Rock are going to haul their butts out to the Bronx, nor should they -- the city needs to wake the hell up and help them NOW - it is damn cold outside!

Dec. 08 2012 02:43 PM

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