City administrators met Wednesday with Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives to discuss four key concerns of city officials - public assistance, travel-trailer safety, disbursement of public assistance and the the future of substantially damaged properties.
Miami City Manager Michael Spurgeon said the meeting brought confirmation that travel trailers parked near the city's turnpike entrance will not be used as temporary housing for flood victims and that FEMA is planning to put 22 displaced households into 14-foot by 60-foot mobile homes within days.
“Twenty-two sites at a mobile home park on Steve Owens Boulevard have been approved for the trailers,” Spurgeon said. “In a parallel track that is being run, we are looking for other pad-sized pieces of property within the city that will accommodate the mobile homes.”
A list of who will get the first of the trailers is currently at FEMA's disaster recovery center and has been prioritized to first serve the handicapped, elderly and those households with special needs, according to Spurgeon.
According to Spurgeon, FEMA officials said smaller trailers can be built within three weeks to house the estimated 116 families that will still be waiting for housing assistance.
The process of placing those families in temporary housing is challenged by federal regulations that prohibit the larger trailers from being placed into the city's floodplain.
“The travel trailers could be set up in the floodplain,” Spurgeon said. “These larger trailers can't.”
Spurgeon said the city is working with the county to identify as many applicable properties within the city limits that are currently vacant that can be used for trailer placement.
Spurgeon said FEMA officials indicated that 807 households in Ottawa County, including 789 in Miami, have registered for housing assistance.
Ottawa County residents have received just short of $3.7 million in federal assistance through FEMA, Spurgeon reported.
As of Wednesday, FEMA had made 516 awards for housing assistance, for a total of $2.7 million. FEMA also gave out 254 awards for other needs, for a total of $940,000.
The disbursements through the local disaster recovery center make up more than 64 percent of the $5.6 million that has been disbursed through FEMA statewide in response to storm damage suffered since May 24.
In the meantime, city officials are still waiting for President George Bush to make a declaration of public assistance (for publicly owned properties).
The June 13 plea to the President requests assistance for 17 counties that were damaged after weather events in May brought flooding and storms to much of northeast Oklahoma.
“We hope to receive word on public assistance within the week,” Spurgeon said.
Once the request regarding the previous flooding and tornado damage is decided, Spurgeon said he expects the application to be amended to include damage from the July flooding.
To date, city officials have estimated $5.8 million in damage to public property.
Damage to residential and commercial property is still being assessed.
Spurgeon said discussions with FEMA regarding substantially damaged properties was brief on Wednesday.
“We decided to wait to discuss that issued in detail until after public assistance is declared,” Spurgeon said.