FEMA trailers sitting uninhabited, victims want answers

December 12, 2012 3:07:27 PM PST
There are mobile homes, already built, winterized and ready to go, up to a thousand, but no one is living inside of them.

Nobody in a position of power seems to want them, but some of those facing months of rebuilding, do.

The McGowan's are lucky. They received a privately donated trailer to live in while they rebuild their home in Gerritsen Beach.

Scott McGowan/Brooklyn: "It's an extension of our home, our own home," said Scott McGowan, Brooklyn resident.

The community made a plea for donated RV's when it was clear the FEMA trailers were not coming.

"We know they're out there. They're sitting in a lot somewhere and people need to have them," McGowan said.

Eyewitness News found them in Cumberland Maryland at a FEMA Temporary Housing storage site about 300 miles from New York City.

Looking down at all of these trailers you can't help but be struck by the unnecessary waste of it all.

Hundreds upon hundreds of trailers yet there is such a need back in New York and New Jersey.

You wonder why they are still here six weeks after the storm.

"We don't need FEMA trailers. We are focusing on getting people back in their homes," Mayor Bloomberg said.

Instead of trailers, Mayor Bloomberg is relying on his program called Rapid Repairs to get people back into their homes quickly.

"They replaced our boiler to give us heat back, we're doing pretty well with them," said Anne Tedesco, of Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn.

But, five weeks since Rapid Repairs launched 1,200 homes have been fixed.

That leaves around 11,000 families still waiting, many with no heat or electric.

"The guys who came had no answers, no answers," said Frank Caputo, a Staten Island resident.

The Caputo's had Rapid Repairs assess their damaged home weeks ago but have not heard back.

"This was about three weeks ago, no one ever came back," Caputo said.

The Mayor's resistance to trailers is solidly supported by FEMA which insists they wouldn't work here.

"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 peoples in harm's way by putting units in where they don't belong," said Michael Byrne, of FEMA.

"Whoever is telling you that is some bureaucrat who's blowing smoke," Congressman Frank Pallone said.

Congressman Frank Pallone whose pressure on FEMA finally got a few dozen trailers to New Jersey says the excuses are cold comfort to displaced families.

"It's getting cold, you can't expect people to rely on neighbors, relatives, hotels forever, they need this housing," Congressman Pallone said.

As winter settles in, these winterized temporary housing units, at least 700 of them, would be welcomed by many back in New York still waiting on homes to be repaired.

"It would definitely work for us," Caputo said.

Like the Caputo's who find the argument that there's no room for them, absurd.

"FEMA and the politicians say there's no space for trailers here?" Investigative reporter Jim Hoffer asked.

"You got a whole field right up the block called miller field where there's acres and acres of land," Caputo said.

As for not putting the mobile homes in a flood plain, FEMA has made exceptions to this rule several times, most recently in North Carolina after Hurricane Irene.

They've put them in flood zones in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas too.


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