FEMA trailers arriving

Published 12:30 am Friday, September 23, 2011

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is overseeing the siting of trailers for people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irene.

Beaufort County will be the first county to see the installation of one of these units, FEMA announced in a news release.

The first unit was to be placed in Chocowinity, said state Sen. Stan White, D-Dare, who represents Beaufort County in the Senate.

Residents who are approved for temporary housing will be able to live in the trailers for up to 18 months, White said, citing information shared Wednesday in a conference call with FEMA representatives.

To qualify for temporary housing, residents’ homes must have sustained $8,000 or more in damage as a result of Irene.

The units will be placed on the approved applicant’s lot.

The lot must allow access to water, sewer and electricity, White said.

Crews contracted through FEMA will set up the trailers, he said.

The two-bedroom units come fully furnished, according to White.

“It will be a blessing to a lot of folks to have that available to them,” he said.

White said that, as of Wednesday, FEMA had 50 of the trailers on standby in a staging area at Rocky Mount, with 50 more units on order.

Reports from Beaufort County emergency management demonstrate the trailers are needed here.

Irene was directly or indirectly responsible for the destruction of 126 homes in the county, according to John Pack, emergency management coordinator.

Another 362 homes were damaged to the extent that their occupants would have to be relocated to make way for repairs, Pack said.

The 126 structures that were destroyed were a mix of weekend and primary homes, he related.

The homes were mostly located in areas severely affected by Irene, including the Pamlico Beach community and residential areas east of Aurora, but some homes were more than 50 percent damaged in such locations as Washington Park and Whichard’s Beach Road, Pack said.

The damages were caused by everything from floodwaters to falling trees, he reported.

The damage reports have been collected through the cooperative efforts of state, local and federal officials, including Beaufort County building inspectors, Pack shared.

The county is using some of its own resources, among them water meter readers, to locate people who need FEMA aid, he said.

“We’re working on the primary residents, the people that live there all the time,” he said. “We’re working to make sure that we haven’t missed anybody to the best of our ability.”

On Wednesday, he said, the county learned there were 10 people living in one three-bedroom home as a result of the storm. The owner had moved out temporarily, leaving the home to the evacuees.

The county continues finding two to three families per day that haven’t registered with FEMA, Pack said.

County officials have knowledge of at least 32 families whose homes can be saved but who will need to be relocated to make way for repairs.

White urged those who need assistance to seek it.

“I’m just hoping that the people are willing to ask for help,” he said. “Sometimes people are a little too proud to ask for help, and this is one of those cases where they don’t need to be. It’s a service that is available to them, and they should take advantage of it if they qualify or if they need it.”