FEMA Trailers
Giving A New Meaning To Re-creational Vehicles

485 The Purvis Mississippi logistics yard, about 100 miles from the disaster zones. CLUI photoFEMA TRAILERS FROM SEVERAL RV companies have been flowing out of factories in the north, bound for the ruined cities of the south. The trailers are specially built for FEMA, assembled quickly, with few frills and features. They generally cost about $10,000 each, much less than their consumer counterparts. The trailers made by Pilgrim International in Indiana, for example, have only four small windows, one on one side, and three on the other.

As of February, 2006, according to the New York Times, 72,000 have been installed and occupied, at their place of need, mostly in trailer parks set up in parking lots on government land, or on private property, next to their owners’ ruined houses.

The FEMA trailer program seems to have been more successful than their mobile home program, the other part of FEMA’s $4 billion emergency “manufactured housing” program for hurricane victims. While the trailers are considered vehicles, the mobile homes, larger and more expensive then the trailers, averaging $34,000 each, are considered buildings. As a result, federal law prevents them from being installed in flood plains, the very places where they are most needed.

This and other siting problems at the local level, as well as problems with FEMA’s bureaucracy, has meant that in February, 2006, of the 25,000 mobile homes ordered by FEMA, only about 2,700 have been installed, and that most are still in logistics yards, already falling apart. Over 10,000 are at one site alone, covering the landscape at a former military airfield in Hope, Arkansas. America’s largest mobile home park, inhabited by no one.

487 Boondocking in Athens AL. Many FEMA trailers were brought by conveyor belts of duelie pickup trucks, going back and forth from the RV factories in the Midwest to logistics yards like Purvis. CLUI photo