COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Thanksgiving plans for more than 40 Ohio families are a little bit brighter in their new temporary homes -- travel trailers that were provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to disaster victims in several counties during the past few weeks.
“With the holidays and colder weather approaching, we knew that it was critical to get as many families in the travel trailers as quickly as possible,” Lee Champagne, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer said. “Fortunately, trailers were only necessary in a small percentage of the cases, but we knew they can be extremely important in communities were housing resources are very limited.”
Travel trailers are made available by FEMA only when other forms of housing resources cannot meet the disaster needs. More than 2,300 applicants in the 21 designated counties received temporary rental assistance, but travel trailers were the answer for only about 50-60 individuals and families -- less than two percent.
The first three units were placed last month in Belmont and Guernsey Counties. Since that time, 40 additional travel trailers have been placed in 24 communities in eight different counties. The trailers are located in:
- Athens County: Trimble (3) and Glouster (1)
- Belmont County: Bridgeport (1), Lansing (1), Martin’s Ferry (1), Maynard (1), Neffs
(7), St. Clairsville (2), Stewartsville (1), Warnock (1), and Glencoe (1)
- Guernsey County: Byesville (1), Pleasant City (2), and Quaker City (2)
- Jefferson County: Rayland (1)
- Lawrence County: Proctorville (1)
- Perry County: Crooksville (1)
- Vinton County: Wilkesville (1)
- Washington County: Elba (1), Macksburg (2), Marietta (6), Newport (2), Whipple (1), and
New Matamoras (2)
“Providing adequate short-term housing for our flood-affected citizens has been one of the primary concerns of our federal-state-local government partnership,” said Dale Shipley, executive director of Ohio Emergency Management Agency and state coordinating officer. “It will require the resourcefulness and cooperation of everyone.
Assistance is still available for disaster applicants with housing needs. A new toll-free number was set-up in Columbus to provide additional housing resources. The number, 1-877-510-8563, is available from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday and 8:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday. It will be closed on Thanksgiving, but will continue to operate until 6 p.m. December 9.
More than $32.9 million in grants and low-interest loans has already been approved for thousands of the 8,777 homeowners, renters, and business owners who applied for disaster assistance before the November 18 deadline. Almost 100 residents called to apply on the final day.
Travel trailers are not the answer for every applicant. The units are approximately 8 ft. wide by 32 feet long and can sleep up to five people. Priority for interim housing goes to people with critical disaster housing needs: people with medical conditions who are able to live in trailers; families living in crowded conditions, and persons living in damaged homes that are not safe.
“We are still working in some communities to make sure that adequate power and utilities are available for the travel trailers,” Champagne said. “We want to make sure that no individual or family is left without housing as a result of this flooding disaster which occurred between August 27 and September 27.”
FEMA considers travel trailers as “interim housing,” and occupants re-certify each month. All disaster recovery actions are undertaken with the hope that people can return to their own home or acquire other permanent housing.
The agency travel trailers are required to comply with all local building code and hou...