Evacuees slow to move into FEMA trailer town

first_imgBAKER, La. – What was to be Louisiana’s first great stride in providing temporary housing for Hurricane Katrina victims turned out to be more of a stutter step Thursday, with only about 50 new residents arriving to fill a trailer community built for upward of 2,000. Reporters were told Thursday morning that busloads of evacuees from area shelters would be arriving throughout the day. But evacuees only trickled in, most in their own cars. Others stepped off large buses in small groups – one huge tour bus roared up to a registration tent with only three people aboard. Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and contractors on site would not give a reason for the latest delay in populating the trailer community. That it took more than five weeks after Katrina struck to get the site ready was blamed officially on a second storm, Hurricane Rita, and unofficially on bureaucratic disorganization and trouble getting the park’s tap water certified as safe to drink. New resident Yolanda Vaughn said there were communication problems: She was never officially told the trailer she and her husband, Dwain, would share was ready Thursday. A fellow resident at a nearby Red Cross-run evacuation shelter in Baker alerted them that she had seen their name on a list. “It’s just miscommunication,” Yolanda Vaughn said, happy to be in their small, but private, home instead of a shelter. “It’s not anybody’s fault.” The park – the first major hurricane trailer town in the New Orleans area – is expected to hold between three and four people per trailer, which could put the population at more than 2,000. Among the first shown her new home was Izella Crayton and her two young children, forced out of their home in a New Orleans suburb by Katrina’s wind and rain. FEMA is overseeing and funding the park. Staffers had trouble unlocking the door of Crayton’s two-bedroom trailer, but when it opened and she stepped in, she was bowled over. “Oh, look how beautiful!” she shouted. A quick tour of the compact living space revealed a three-bed vacation-style trailer, outfitted with such basics as bed sheets by government contractors. Most of the trailers have 200 to 300 square feet of living space, some with pop-out sections. The park is plotted like a town, with still-unnamed gravel streets. There are plans for postal service and bus connections for the 1.5-mile trip into Baker, just north of Baton Rouge, but they have not yet been completed. The typical maximum stay in FEMA housing is 18 months. Crayton said she expects to be there about a year. She hopes to find work similar to what she did in Gretna – housekeeping and cooking for a nursing home. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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