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Thousands Still in Trailers

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - 5:57pm

Thousands of Louisiana hurricane victims are racing against the clock. They’ll soon be forced out of their emergency housing. Victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita have been getting help from the government for their housing needs, but the aid ends in a few week and advocates say many families will be homeless as a result.

Hurricane Katrina survivor Leslie Dorantes says, “I miss home, I miss my job, I miss my life. Starting over is difficult, but its something I have to do because I have to live on.” After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ripped through the region many storm survivors like Dorantes were forced into temporary housing as they tried to re-piece their lives together.

It’s been four years since the storms and even now, 4,000 FEMA trailers are scattered across the state. Dr. Monteic Sizer of LA Family Recover Corps says, “We are to this point primarily because the state of Louisiana, LRA in particular, have not been able to work with FEMA to make the resources come into the state to help people so they can help themselves.” Dr. Sizer says FEMA set aside $32 million to help Louisiana’s hurricane victims move out of the government provided trailers, but Sizer says the state never took the money from FEMA. “Those folks are already receiving notices from FEMA saying they buy the trailers that they’re currently in or they have to leave the trailers.”

Folks who live in FEMA trailers have to move out by May 31st. Louisiana lawmakers did lock down $8 million in FEMA aid to help victims, but critics say it’s too little too late. “The likelihood of the programs being established and ready to go and to help them offset problems they are facing is slim to none.” Sizer says it’s bad enough thousands of families will be thrown out next month, he says even worse; the state isn’t ready for other hurricanes. “The state of Louisiana, I am sad to say, has yet to have a comprehensive long-term human recovery strategy tied to its Office of Homeland Security to mitigate and offset challenges should we have another catastrophic hurricane.”

The Louisiana Family Recovery Corps will be pushing for a hurricane recovery master plan when the legislative session starts in a couple of weeks.