Columbia, Mo. -- Eligible tornado survivors unable to find other forms of housing will soon be able to occupy temporary housing in two community sites beginning construction south of the Joplin Regional Airport.
City of Joplin and Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, with the Corps of Engineers, conducted a briefing Tuesday, July 5, on land just south of the Joplin Regional Airport, off Highway 171. On that field, the agency will construct two mobile home communities that could accommodate up to 346 manufactured housing units.
"The start of this project is a significant step forward in the Joplin area disaster recovery," said Joplin City Manager R. Mark Rohr. "Providing housing for the families who were displaced due to the May 22 tornado is important, because these families are ready to regain a sense of normalcy in their daily lives. Sitting down for a meal as a family or putting your kids to bed in their own rooms, may seem to be the simple things in life, but during disasters, they are some of the most important things in life. With these units, they will have those opportunities. And it's with the assistance of the federal government that this can happen for Joplin residents."
The City of Joplin has provided the land at no cost to FEMA to house survivors of the May 22 EF-5 tornado. The HUD-approved manufactured housing units are three-bedroom, one-bath, all-electric homes. Models meeting federal accessibility standards will be provided to families who indicate they need them. FEMA will pay all utilities except for cable and phone, but connections for those are available in the units.
"We understand the critical need to help the survivors of the devastating tornado that struck Joplin May 22," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Libby Turner. "We tasked the Corps of Engineers to build this project as quickly as possible and we also expedited the environmental review process to be able to begin this project in a timely manner."
With an eye to the future, infrastructure built for the parks will be left for city use when the temporary housing program has finished.
FEMA has mission-assigned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to oversee the design and development of the communities and manage the construction. Construction will occur on both sites simultaneously. For the first couple of weeks, work will go on 24 hours a day. Each park will be built in phases. As Phase One is completed, families will be able to move in while construction continues on the rest of the park. To ensure the safety of families moving into the units, security will be provided and the completed sections will be fenced off from those still under construction.
Occupants of the housing must be eligible for FEMA assistance and provide FEMA with information on what they will be doing to find permanent housing. The community sites provide housing up to 18 months dating from the May 9 disaster declaration.
The mobile home communities are only one aspect of the Housing Assistance portion of FEMA's Individuals and Households Program. Housing assistance provides rental assistance or funds for essential home repairs for those whose primary homes have been damaged or destroyed. FEMA staff continues to search for available rental resources and to assess commercial mobile home parks for available pads and lease those that are suitable. Seventy (70) families currently occupy housing units placed by FEMA in commercial parks.
Registration for FEMA assistance has been extended to July 29. Anyone who has not yet registered for assistance should do so using one of these options:
Online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov,
By smartphone through m.FEMA.gov,
By phone at FEMA's toll-free registration line 800-621-FEMA (3362).