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FEMA answers criticism about PA trailers

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 11th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Federal Emergency Management Administration is explaining why the 100 winterized trailers in Pennsylvania cannot be sent to provide shelter for victims of Superstorm Sandy. Simply put, the trailers are too large and require more infrastructure than can be reasonably managed at this time.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Some frustration is brewing over the "temporary housing units" that FEMA has stored in Pennsylvania. According to FEMA, they units are actually mobile homes, and not small trailers than can be parked in a driveway.

Public perception is that the trailers can be hauled into the city to provide quick, temporary housing, but this isn't the case.

Ed Connolly, a FEMA administrator, told Catholic Online that FEMA is instead providing rental assistance to house people until they can rebuild their homes. "We're putting everything into financial assistance," he said.

Connolly explained that using the housing units was considered but they were simply too large. "People think we have trailers that can be set up in driveways, but this is not the case," he said.

The actual housing units would require infrastructure improvements such as sewage disposal, plumbing, and electricity with 220 amp service, and they would need a specifically constructed concrete base underneath them. Propane tanks would also have to be set up and connected for heat.

Local ordinances might also prevent the use of the trailers, but Connolly said those weren't even considered because the other prerequisites just couldn't be met.

If FEMA were to authorize the use of the trailers, the process would take months. And in some urban areas, such as New York city, there simply isn't room.

Despite the opinion of some detractors, FEMA is not sitting idle while people go without. The Administration is doing all they can to ensure that their budget is spent reasonably and that aid goes to help those who need it most.

Already, FEMA has given over $700 million to New Yorkers affected by Sandy with the majority of that going towards housing assistance.

The Administration plans to remain active in the area until all residents are able to return to their homes.

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