FEMA's trailer supply size questioned

The Miami HeraldMay 21, 2009 

The new version of FEMA trailers may be available in hues of rose and peach, include cozy front porches and full-size kitchen cabinets, but the cosmetic touches can't mask a question: Are there enough to dispatch to Florida in the event of a major hurricane?

FEMA has ordered "hundreds" of the new trailers, which are supposed to be available by the June 1 start of the hurricane season. FEMA's Phil May, who oversees the region that includes Florida, said the agency can order thousands more as needed.

"We have sufficient travel trailers in place to meet the need if sites are available," May said.

But congressional leaders on a subcommittee that oversees FEMA have questioned whether the emergency agency has enough manufactured homes to dispatch to Florida or other vulnerable states during the six-month hurricane season.

During a May 1 hearing in Miami, the co-chair of the subcommittee, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., demanded a count of trailers within 30 days.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents Miami and serves on the subcommittee, said he fears FEMA lacks an adequate housing supply.

"I don't think we are where we need to be in a lot of areas, including housing," Diaz-Balart said in an interview. "I'm not at this stage confident that we have enough."

As the last resort in times of disaster, FEMA must be ready, he said.

"There is a stockpile. The question is, is it enough for a big storm in a populated place such as South Florida?"

To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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