Barbour seeks extension for FEMA trailers in Miss.

Published 7:47 pm Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Gov. Haley Barbour is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add another year to the time thousands of Mississippians will be allowed to live in trailers the government issued after Hurricane Katrina.

Barbour says a shortage of permanent housing makes it impossible for most people living in FEMA trailers to move out before the current deadline of Feb. 28.

A Barbour spokesman this week said the governor has sent FEMA a letter on Dec. 5 asking that the deadline be pushed back until February 2008.

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Mississippi Emergency Management Agency records show that as of Monday, 84,494 people were living in FEMA trailers in 13 Mississippi counties. That’s 31,294 trailers multiplied by the average family size of 2.7 people.

Mary Jane Nixon, who lives in a FEMA trailer on the coast, has been looking for a place to rent

“I can’t find anything right now,” Nixon said. “It’s hard because they don’t have very many left to stay in.”

Katrina destroyed thousands of homes when it blew ashore on Aug. 29, 2005.

Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway says an extension for the FEMA trailers is necessary.

“When we first started with Katrina with the trailers, it was going to be for 18 months with a possible six-month extension. Circumstances are such that a lot of people are not ready to make the transition into a permanent home,” Holloway told WLOX-TV.

Harrison County Board of Supervisors President Connie Rockco said while some people will make good use of the time if the deadline is extended, she worries others will abuse it.

“We do understand the importance of housing. However, we do understand too that if they have free rent, that’s also no incentive to move to another area,” Rockco said.