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FEMA breaking rank; federal trailers headed to flood-prone barrier islands

FEMA RV 1.jpg
File photo
FEMA will allowing travel trailers like this one to move onto the barrier islands of Sanibel, Estero and Pine Island, a FEMA official said Tuesday.

Members of some 2,170 Lee County households have expressed a need for temporary housing from FEMA. But as of Dec. 19, only one household had been provided a FEMA unit in Lee County even though all the households have been approved.

That’s 2 ½ months after the monstrous storm plowed through the state killing 144 people with its 150 mile per hour winds and 18 foot-storm surges – the brunt of which was felt in Lee County.

The problem FEMA was running into was the lack of available land in non-flood zones to place federally owned travel trailers and mobile homes. But now FEMA is breaking rank and allowing its travel trailers to move onto the barrier islands of Sanibel, Estero and Pine Island, said Keith Dennings, a deputy federal coordinating officers for FEMA.

Additional trailers will also be allowed other badly flooded areas such as San Carlos Island, the Iona area and Island Park.

Dennings said FEMA had to work with various governments to make this possible and stressed that only units that can quickly be moved to higher ground, like RVS, will be provided in flood-prone areas. These homes are meant to be temporary.

“And we just know we can’t put mobile homes there and elevate – really elevate it to a high-degree,” Dennings said. “So we have to use temporary travel trailers and they have to remain temporary…. And again, it’s all regulatory.”

As to how many trailers will be determined.

FEMA has already paid $121 million in rental assistance to those impacted by the storm, $52 million of that has been for Lee County residents.

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