AUSTIN, Texas -- Eligible temporary housing recipients in Texas have moved into more than 3,200 travel trailers provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of the Hurricane Rita recovery effort. The units are fully furnished, climate-controlled and equipped with linens, cookware, utensils and other household items. Recipients of the trailers agree to written rules and regulations, including conditions under which units can be removed or moved.
Most units are co-located on property adjacent to a home that is being repaired or rebuilt. In areas where damage is too extensive or the utilities are not available, units are placed in an alternate location. FEMA officials caution that in no case should recipients move the temporary housing units from assigned locations.
"The travel trailers are property of the federal government," said Sandy Coachman, federal coordinating officer for the Texas disaster recovery effort. Attempting to move the trailers is unsafe and unlawful, but also creates a number of problems."
Coachman said resulting difficulties could include aligning sewer lines, disrupting function and flow to a travel trailer. Changing electrical connections could pose safety issues, especially if the electrical wire gauge is different from the original setup. Also, an inexperienced person may hit water and or electrical lines in trying to re-anchor a unit after moving it.
"A lot of planning and coordination with local municipalities and utility providers goes into situating trailers at particular sites and connecting them for use," said State Coordinating Officer Frank Cantu of the Texas Governor's Division of Emergency Management. ?These units are outfitted as temporary homes and not intended for other uses. While the trailers may be portable, they should remain stationary once placed.?
If the delivery address for the trailer must change, the occupant should call FEMA as soon as possible to eliminate delay. To change the location of a trailer after it is delivered, occupants should call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing-or speech-impaired.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.