FEMA Trails In Katrina Trailer Removal

Posted August 31, 2006
Updated November 10, 2006

— A year after Hurricane Katrina, more than 75,000 government-supplied trailers still dot the Louisiana landscape, including a few thousand that aren't needed anymore.

Blaise Correro was able to move back into his Slidell home in December. A month later, the Federal Emergency Management Agency delivered the trailer he had been waiting for since the hurricane.

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    "I told them I didn't need it, and by that time, they said it was too late," Correro said.

    He said he has made several calls to FEMA since then, asking them to remove the trailer.

    "I called them again, just to see if my name was still on the list (of people needed a trailer removed). They said yeah, and so far I still haven't heard from them," he said.

    Some 9,000 people around Louisiana need trailers and haven't been able to get them. Others, like Correro, can't wait to get rid of the trailers they no longer need.

    "We battled and fought and clawed and screamed and yelled and finally started getting trailers in here, and now people get back in their homes and can't get rid of them," Slidell Mayor Ben Morris said.

    FEMA officials said they have hired 16 contractors in the state to speed the process of moving trailers. They have already removed 5,000 and hope to remove another 4,000 within 45 days.

    Another thing Slidell wants to get rid of is abandoned homes. Morris said his town's recovery is hampered by the fact that 3,000 homes are still uninhabitable and it's almost impossible to find contractors to rebuild them.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has removed 42 million cubic yards of debris from Louisiana since Katrina, but there's still more to do. Towns like Slidell are trying to condemn and raze properties where homeowners have simply walked away.

    "We're light years ahead (of where we were a year ago), but it's so God-awful slow," Morris said.

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