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article imageFEMA has up to 1000 trailers — why not give to Sandy victims?

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By Anne Sewell     Dec 14, 2012 in World
New York - Around 11,000 families still have nowhere to live following Hurricane Sandy. With freezing temperatures coming, victims want to know why FEMA is not supplying housing, when they have hundreds of winter-ready trailers parked and standing.
It seems that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not provided the housing that it promised, even though it has up to 1,000 winterized mobile homes sitting in a parking lot at a storage site in Cumberland, Maryland, around 300 miles from New York. Apparently no one in a position of power wants to use them. But thousands of people need them desperately.
More than a month since Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast, 11,000 families are still waiting for their homes to be repaired. The weather is getting colder, and a lot of these families are facing that cold with no heat or electricity.
Many of these families have requested FEMA to supply them with temporary mobile homes to get through the winter. FEMA most recently provided trailers to families in North Carolina after Hurricane Irene destroyed coastal homes, so why not help the latest victims?
Brooklyn resident, Scott McGowan, told ABC, “We know they’re out there. They’re sitting in a lot somewhere and people need to have them.”
So ABC’s Eyewitness News flew over the FEMA lot in Cumberland, Maryland with a helicopter and discovered hundreds of unused trailers, winterized, ready to go, but just sitting there, doing nothing.
“You wonder why they are still here six weeks after the storm,” wrote ABC investigative journalist Jim Hoffer.
However, New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, apparently said he doesn't want them.
“We don’t need FEMA trailers. We are focusing on getting people back in their homes,” he said.
The situation in some areas of New York is so dire, that displaced communities made pleas for donated RV's, once they found FEMA was denying their request for mobile homes. Some families were lucky, others not so much.
Bloomberg has started a free program called Rapid Repairs, to help residential property owners affected by the hurricane make emergency repairs. The program fixes residents’ heat and electricity, allowing them to remain in their homes while they wait for other repairs.
However, with the slow rate of these repairs, it could be months before all of New York City’s displaced families see their homes repaired. And its getting so cold out there.
Reportedly, only 1,200 homes have been fixed since Rapid Repairs was launched five weeks ago, leaving 11,000 families still waiting.
And not only does Bloomberg oppose the use of the readily available FEMA trailers, apparently even the agency says it doesn’t want to provide them.
Michael Byrne of FEMA told ABC, “We don’t have the open space and the open space we have is back in flooded areas and we don’t want to compound the problem of putting people in harm’s way by putting units where they don’t belong.”
"Whoever is telling you that is some bureaucrat who's blowing smoke," Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey said, disagreeing with Bloomberg. Pallone is pressuring FEMA to provide trailers for displaced families, but has so far only received a few dozen.
Reporter Hoffer pointed out an enormous empty field, with many acres of land, sitting there waiting and available for the trailers. "FEMA and the politicians say there's no space for trailers here?" he asked.
"You got a whole field right up the block called Miller field where there's acres and acres of land," Frank Caputo, a Staten Island resident, said.
“It’s getting cold, you can’t expect people to rely on neighbors, relatives, hotels forever, they need this housing,” he added.
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More about hurricane sandy, superstorm sandy, New york, Homeless, Fema
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