The Federal Emergency Management Association is expected to begin trucking in small travel trailers Monday as temporary housing for residents of Miami displaced by last week’s flood, according to a local housing administrator.
The Miami City Council approved an ordinance allowing the temporary trailers to be placed in Miami.
Johnny Glaze with FEMA’s housing operations in Tulsa said the trailers could soon leave Hope, Ark..,
The July 4 flood displaced families in 48 units of low-income housing at E Street Plaza. Fifty travel trailers will be hooked up in the southeast Miami neighborhood for temporary housing.
Housing and Urban Development officials said many of those families have already been placed in various HUD approved homes throughout the community, but the trailers will offer temporary housing to those who want to return to E Street Plaza.
“We gave tenants their deposits back and issued vouchers to aid in rent,” said Miami HUD director Jack Trask. “We have been assured by HUD that the funds are available to build the units back.”
Trask said the multifamily units as much as three feet of water inside the units, depending on their location.
“Some of them we won’t be able to repair,” Trask said.
Charles Sears, his ex-wife Debbie Vickers and their son Charles Jr., lived in one of the units at E Street Plaza when the Neosho left its banks and crept into the community.
“We just couldn’t get everything out in time,” Sears said. “We have two small cars and they won’t hold much. We put stuff up as high as we could and packed the cars as full as we could, but all our furniture and beds and stuff were left behind.”
Sears and Vickers stayed the first two nights in a motel, but money soon ran out and they were forced to seek a Red Cross shelter.
“I just lost my job a couple weeks ago,” Sears said. “Debbie is on oxygen, waiting for a lung transplant and we have to take care of her needs first.”
The “not knowing” is the hard part Sears said while sitting in the shelter helpless and holding on to hope that the water didn’t get very high inside their home.
“It’s really hard,” Vickers said. “We didn’t have much, but it’s all we had.”
The family is among the 48 who have been offered temporary housing until HUD is able to repair the home they lived in.
Trask said some of the families have been allowed to move with family in other HUD homes.
“We don’t normally allow more than one family in HUD housing,” Trask said. “But, under these circumstances, we have made exceptions.”
Trask said several of the former E Street Plaza tenants have expressed that they will live in on-site temporary housing until their home is repaired.
“The travel trailers are small - about the size of a motel room,” Trask said. “One of our tenants is currently staying in her car so, even though the trailers are small, it is shelter until they can get into permanent housing.”
Trask said it will probably take six months to get the units in livable condition so tenants can move back.
(Editor’s note: FEMA officials on the ground in Miami have no confirmed the availability of trailers. See related story on the front page of this edition.)