RALEIGH, N.C. -- After Hurricane Irene struck last August, thousands of families were left temporarily homeless. Most have been able to repair and return to their homes, but for some, housing challenges remain.
One hundred eighteen families are still living in the mobile homes that the Federal Emergency Management Agency provided as a last-resort option. April 1 is the deadline for those who have been using the temporary housing units in Special Flood Hazard Areas, unless the occupants formally seek an extension, and the county approves their request. So far, 82 families have been granted such extensions.
“There was no easy housing solution in many of the areas hit hardest by Irene,” said state Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell. “The use of FEMA mobile homes proved to be the most workable solution for many families, but we knew it was only a short-term answer for those in flood-prone areas.”
Initially, the FEMA manufactured houses were not a viable option for the low-lying areas of eastern North Carolina due to the potential for future flooding. Last fall, impacted counties, state and FEMA developed a compromise to enable the FEMA homes to be placed in the flood plain. In turn, occupants agreed to be out of the units by April, before spring flooding and hurricanes set in.
Outreach teams from North Carolina Emergency Management and FEMA have been meeting regularly since last fall with each of the 194 families who were originally assigned a FEMA temporary housing unit. Counselors have met weekly with occupants to help them explore or develop plans for safe, secure and functional housing. Already, 76 families have moved back into permanent homes.
The manufactured housing units were part of a larger state and FEMA temporary housing program that included hotels, motels, apartments and other available rental properties to house eligible residents displaced by Hurricane Irene. FEMA and NCEM have provided $29 million in housing assistance to help 8,900 survivors repair and rebuild their damaged homes after Irene.
The housing program is not ending. This deadline only applies to those temporary housing units located in the state’s Special Flood Hazard Areas.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.