[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish wants all FEMA trailers out by Tuesday

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sat Mar 28 23:59:28 EDT 2009

St. Bernard Parish wants all FEMA trailers out by Tuesday
by Chris Kirkham, The Times-Picayune
Saturday March 28, 2009, 8:59 PM
The local governments have poked and prodded; the extensions have come and

The final deadline looms May 1 for the 3,419 remaining FEMA trailers that
have dotted lawns across the state since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The
end of next month will mark the culmination of a long series of appeals and
extensions for the mobile housing units.

St. Bernard Parish is making the final push a month early, requiring all
FEMA trailers to be out of the parish by Tuesday. Anyone still living in a
St. Bernard FEMA trailer is on an extension from the parish's Jan. 21

Parish officials have been eager to move beyond the trailer phase of

"There is always a fine balance between progress and protection with the
issue of temporary housing assistance," St. Bernard Parish President Craig
Taffaro said. "As we are pleased with the removal of trailers, we are
grateful for the assistance to our community to this point."

As of Friday, there were still 392 trailers left in St. Bernard, down from
more than 9,000 in the months after Katrina and more than 700 at the end of

Although St. Bernard was one of the last parishes in the metropolitan area
to set a sunset on FEMA trailers, it has far fewer lingering units than New

On Friday, New Orleans still had 1,042 trailers left, compared with 424 in
Plaquemines Parish, 73 in Jefferson Parish, 285 in St. Tammany Parish, 29 in
St. Charles Parish and 16 in St. John the Baptist Parish.

Parishes such as Jefferson and St. Tammany have taken harder-line approaches
to thinning out the trailers, with Jefferson initially filing lawsuits
against more than 260 trailer dwellers beginning last year. The suits
followed an intense enforcement blitz throughout 2007 by parish inspectors.

On Aug. 29 last year, St. Tammany Parish lifted an emergency order that had
been in place since after the storm that allowed trailers to be exempt from
parish residential zoning laws that would prohibit them.

Parish spokeswoman Suzanne Parsons Stymiest said any remaining trailers are
likely ones FEMA has not gotten to yet.

"FEMA's only been able to pick up like 20, 30 a week, and they just have not
been able to pick them up fast enough," she said.

New Orleans mayoral spokesman James Ross said the city is continuing
trailer-by-trailer inspections to determine delays and will ask FEMA for
extensions on trailers whose occupants are having Road Home delays. The city
did not have an estimate of how many extensions might be needed.

Although May 1 is the official deadline for FEMA's temporary housing
program, a FEMA official told a New Orleans City Council committee in
February that needed extensions mean "probably realistically we won't make
the May 1 deadline."

FEMA spokesman Andrew Thomas acknowledged that it will take time to
physically remove all the trailers, even if everyone is out by May 1.

"We will see how many families, if any, still remain in our temporary
housing units, and those families will be the ones that the case managers
will intensify their work with to find a permanent housing solution," Thomas

Chris Kirkham can be reached at ckirkham at timespicayune.com or 504.826.3321.

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