Establishing temporary housing for displaced flood victims is among the most pressing issues facing the City of Miami, according to the city's top administrator.
City Manager Michael Spurgeon estimated that, in the wake of the city's second-largest flood of record, 200 to 300 homes are now not habitable.
On Wednesday, city and county officials met with Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives and discussed the placement of travel trailers directly on the properties of homeowners who cannot currently live in their homes due to flood damage.
Trailers will not be placed on rental property sites without the permission of the land owner, according to FEMA officials.
Council members paved the way for the trailers in a special meeting held Wednesday afternoon as the five-member panel temporarily amended an ordinance that typically prohibits use of the trailers on residential property.
The trailers are currently parked in Hope, Ark., and are expected to be in Miami as early as Monday, Spurgeon said.
Arrangements for trailer placements will be made when flood victims register their claim with FEMA, according to Bill Plumlee, the agency's public relations officer.
Spurgeon said that FEMA has not indicated if the travel trailers are new or were used during the cleanup of Gulf coast states after Hurricane Katrina displaced thousands of residents.
FEMA representative Johnny Glaze said the trailers will be available to residents for six months and all utilities will be hooked up by FEMA workers and usage fees will be paid for through the federal agency.
Use of the housing will be limited to six months, according to Glaze.
In other business, the council voted to temporarily waive the city purchasing policy and allow the council to consider flood-related purchases up to $55,000 - without requiring a public bid.
The city charter allows the council to approve purchases up to $25,000 without having to set the item out for bids, according to Spurgeon. The council, by its own policy, limits non-bid purchases to $5,000.
“We would like to recommend that the council allow the administration to make purchases up to $55,000 - per state statute - and get three quotes needed to make purchases related to cleanup and recover operations only,” Spurgeon said.
The change will expedite cleanup efforts, according to city officials, who said the city can't afford to wait 60 days for purchases to clear the bidding procedure.
Council members agreed to waive the policy for 30 days and will revisit the need at that time.
€ The city engineering department, with help from Pryor, Broken Arrow and Owasso, is beginning the process of conducting assessment and construction estimates. City engineer Jerry Ruse expects the process to be complete within two weeks.
€ FEMA has set up a permanent Disaster Relief Center at 1601 N. Main St. (the former Home Furnishing Gallery). It will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There, residents may register a damage claim and apply for FEMA assistance as well as obtain direction from other agencies that can offer assistance.
€ The city and county, with the cooperation of the Miami Industrial Development Authority and the Department of Environmental Quality, are currently working to open a temporary staging area for flood debris. It is located in Progress Industrial Park. Residents and business owners may bring flood debris there.
€ City department heads and staff are currently assessing public properties in preparation for a Tuesday meeting with FEMA. City officials estimate that city damage is in the millions of dollars and that hundreds of projects have been identified as being damaged or destroyed by the recent flood.
€ Mosquitoes spraying and fogging continues.
€ Businesses may dump flood-damaged materials for free, however, the city will not collect business debris from curbs.
€ Residents may set flood-damaged materials at curbside. No non-flood related material will be accepted. Also, residents are asked to keep debris materials off of gas meters.
€ Personal property stored at the former BF Goodrich site can be retrieved between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
€ NW: Masonic Lodge parking lot (425 H NW).
€ SW: South Main Street - Lot next to H&R Block at 318 S. Main St.
€ SE: 2nd Avenue - Between G and H streets (north of Immanuel Baptist Church at 228 H SE).
€ NE: 12th Avenue - Just past Sky Lane on the south side of the street.