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First on PIX: Finally! FEMA mobile homes to house Sandy survivors after sitting empty for FIVE weeks

New Jersey lost more homes to Sandy than any other state in the Tri-State, which is why thousands of Jersey Shore residents are miffed to know that FEMA has had dozens of fully equipped mobile homes sitting unused in the Garden State since early November.  PIX11 sought answers from the agency regarding the situation that’s perplexed many New Jerseyans.

“I’m frustrated, but what are you gonna do?” asked Gena Grano, as she spoke about her living situation.  Because her waterfront home in Union Beach has no electricity, water or natural gas, and has not been certified structurally sound, it is for all intents and purposes, it’s condemned.  Her family is split up this holiday season, because her home is uninhabitable and because there’s not enough room at relatives’ homes to house her, her husband and their two children.

“My husband is staying with his family [in another town], and my daughter and I are staying at my brother’s,” Grano told PIX11 News.  Staying at her brother’s home, she said, “are my parents… who lost their home [in the storm],  my [other] brother, and his wife and family of four… and me and my kids.”  In total, she said, 16 people have been staying at her brother’s undamaged home for the nearly seven weeks since the superstorm hit.

FEMATrailer

Inside one of the FEMA trailers sitting empty in a New Jersey amusement park parking lot

“I’d definitely love a mobile home,” Grano said, referring to a sight that quite a few New Jersey residents are familiar with.  50 FEMA mobile homes have been sitting in a parking lot at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson.  FEMA gave PIX11 News a tour of one of them, a three-bedroom unit, and the accomodations were far better than how some storm victims are living now.

“There’s a couch, a small chair, a microwave, and kitchen supplies,” Chris McKniff said, as he showed the interior of the mobile home to PIX11 News Thursday afternoon.

However, the fact that he had mobile homes available to show in the holding lot at the Central Jersey amusement park, begged the question of why they were sitting in the lot instead of being full of families in need.

“The numbers [of needy families] fluctuate,” McKniff told PIX11 News.  “People’s situations change.”  Still, by any measure, there are far more than 50 families in need of housing on the Jersey Shore.  However, McKniff said, his agency is not focusing its housing resources on mobile home placement.

“Mobile homes are a last resort,” he said.  “Our primary housing option is to provide rental assistance.”

Survey

Gina Grano surveys the Sandy battered home she is no longer allowed inside of. While FEMA’s goal is rental assistance, Grano says she has so far been unable to find a rental

But displaced homeowner Gena Grano pointed out, “It’s so hard to get a rental.  We were looking.”

Union Beach officials told PIX11 News that at least 200 families are without homes in the wake of Sandy.  The town’s mayor, Paul Smith, had requested that FEMA place mobile homes on the lots of damaged houses, but federal regulations prevent the agency from locating its mobile homes in flood plains, and Union Beach is clearly one of those.

Instead, McKniff said, FEMA’s mobile homes are designed to be set in place for an extended period of time, up to 18 months.  “This will be fixed,” he said to PIX11 News, pointing to the interior of the mobile home in which he led a tour, “fixed to water, sewer and electricity.”

Those utility hookups are available only in trailer parks, not on home lots.  Thursday evening, Mayor Smith of Union Beach told PIX11 News that his town had reached an agreement with FEMA that the mobile homes will finally be put in place in a trailer park in the neighboring town of Hazlet.

FEMA said that the mobile homes will be set up there before the end of next week.

19 comments

  • Sally G

    Please check out http://www.toxictrailers.com and http://www.LicensetoKill.com about the concerns for potential inadvertent combustion poisoning, CO, NOx, Formaldehyde, etc. Certainly not saying that we should not be using these trailers—they are clean, dry shelter, and that means so much—but that we should take care, make sure we monitor health of residents, who have already had enough to deal with.

  • Cathy

    Lets be realistic people safety and getting utilities on come first then site assements done. I lived thru Katrina and I was one of the lucky ones who got my fema trailer first and i did not get it until almost the end of October. I know these people are frustrated but step back take a deep breath and take one day at a time. Your town was not built in a day and rebuilding will not happen over nite .I wish it worked that way but it doesn't. You just have to remember the old saying "what doesn't kill you will make you stronger" and believe me as one that has been there you and your family will be stronger .

    • Amy

      What would you recommend Obama do? Hook up the gas lines himself? Demolish and rebuild the homes? Is that what Bush did after Katrina? Oh….that's right….he just FLEW over in a helicopter to view the devastation. Then he slapped his friend on the back to tell him what a good job he was doing as director of FEMA: "You're doing a heckuva job, Brownie!"

      I await your response as to what actions you think Obama should be undertaking.

      • teremist

        As Commander in chief he certainly has the power to order FEMA to make assets available IMMEDIATELY to those in need. He also has a duty to follow through on his PROMISES to the sandy victims. You may not know this but OBAMA is now in charge, not Bush.

  • Amy

    He does not have that power over FEMA. It has its own budget and there are line items for its disaster relief fund. He can't tell them to suddenly blow every last dime on the victims of Sandy. You don't want the president to have that kind of power – that's up to FEMA officials. They have their money allotted to them from Congress, and they figure out how they're going to spend it. If the director isn't doing a good job, then the president can fire him/her – that's it.

  • Karen

    Many complain about big government. When they need something, they complain even more. FEMA can't do everything. Local government emergency management must do their part. They are part of the solution. They have to assist in finding and negotiate with local business to secure the location to set the mobiles where all utilities services are available. RV and mobile parks are reticent to cooperate. They don't particularly want displace people on their property. FEMA, your and my tax dollars, fund the process. They just cannot do everything.

  • Melody

    Why is everyone expecting FEMA to provide long term insurance. It is everyone's responsibilliy to purchase insurance. Make sure you purchase the type that provides assistance for staying somewhere else while your home is being rebuilt or fixed. I understand there is not enough places to stay which is why FEMA should provide trailers. FEMA needs to charge though for it and the insurance reimburses the person. I know some people don't have insurance, i'm sorry for them but it is not the Government's job to take care of you. If FEMA helps others who don't buy insurance then they should help everyone. It isn't fair to those of us who are responsible and do the right thing. Again, it is not the Governments job to take care of you. It is your responsiblity.

  • dlke

    funny how the people complaining Bush didn't work quickly enough are now screaming that Obama is doing the best he can under the circumstances.

  • local

    You people are fools….you build in a flood plain, you do not have the proper insurance………then you got the gonads to scream bloody murder when you do not get your freebies quick enough. Grow up, grow a pair.

  • Helper

    Please beware of contractors. Gilbert Rosales from the Houston/Humble area has ripped off workers and homeowners from several people. Recently from Louisiana area. He is headed north to Sandy area.

Comments are closed.

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