Temporary houses

Anthony and Dorothy Anderson stand in front of a FEMA trailer on Dorothy’s property in Dickinson on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017.  Anderson received the trailer about six weeks ago, but has been unable to enter it because it isn’t completed to FEMA’s standards. Her house will be finished with repairs in a few weeks, she said.

DICKINSON

A Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer has been sitting in Dorothy Anderson’s front yard on Longwood Lane in Dickinson for weeks. But she hasn’t seen the inside of it.

Anderson, who shares her home with her son, Anthony Anderson, received the trailer about six weeks ago, she said. Every few days, a contractor arrives to work on the trailer, often at odd hours, but no one has told her when she might be able to get in it, she said.

In the meantime, she’s been staying in her home, which was flooded during Hurricane Harvey, while it’s being repaired, she said. She worries the house might be repaired before she ever sets foot in the trailer, she said.

“The house will be done and they’ll still be working on the yard and trailer,” Dorothy Anderson said. “It just aggravates me.”

As of Tuesday, FEMA had approved 196 survivor families for trailers or travel trailers, agency spokesman Robert Howard said. On Tuesday, just 67 of those families have been able to get keys to get inside the trailers, which may be sitting on their properties waiting for water or electricity hookups, he said.

After doing more than 2,500 pre-placement interviews with Hurricane Harvey survivors in Galveston County, the agency identified about 415 households in need of direct housing, Howard said. The other families are either back in their homes, have hotel or motel vouchers or have found an apartment with rental assistance, he said.

Families received either a manufactured home or a travel trailer based on the size of the household and size of the lot, he said.

But there have been delays. Before people can move in, the agency often has to get water, electricity and sewer connected to the trailer, which can take time, depending on how fast utility services work, the availability of contractors and how long permitting takes, Howard said.

“It depends on the utilities and how long that takes,” Howard said.

The Daily News called the Dickinson Water Department’s superintendent Wednesday, but did not reach the department head before press time.

The emergency management agency delivered a travel trailer to Erika Ortega’s home in Dickinson a few weeks ago, but she didn’t receive a key to temporarily move in until the week before Christmas because the trailer needed to be hooked up to services, she said.

Her house has been under construction for months after Hurricane Harvey flooded it in late August. Ortega, her husband and two daughters had been staying with her mother in Dickinson, she said.

“It takes time, but they have a lot of people to help and are working on everyone so we understand,” Ortega said. “It’s just nice to be back by the house. There’s nothing like home.”

Ortega anticipated the house would be complete in the coming weeks and the agency would pick up the travel trailer for someone else to use, she said.

Marissa Barnett: 409-683-5257; marissa.barnett@galvnews.com

(10) comments

Randy Chapman

The common sense thing to do would have been to build a temporary RV/Trailer park to house these folks. Utilities could have been installed much faster and they could have been in the trailers. Jack Brooks park comes to mind as possible site, among others I'm sure. They don't have to live in their driveways or front yards but do need housing.

Walter Manuel

Your absolutely right Randy.

It would seem cheaper for FEMA to look around town for empty trailer spaces and work out a deal with the park owners, rather keep these families in limbo so long while trying to get everyone on the same page to install the utilities and make these trailers livable.

It's been too long of a process that really didn't have to be..... So sad!

Randy Chapman

It's insane to think that the cities and utility companies have the manpower to hookup and later unhook hundreds of trailers in scattered sites all over the community. Using already established sites, or using temporary sites specially built with all the required utilities quickly installed makes much more sense. Yeah, families may not be living next to their unlivable homes, but that's not a necessity in times like this. A livable roof over their heads is what is needed.

PD Hyatt

When dealing with NFIP, FEMA or the SBA you have to be patient as they are government workers who don't know their jobs and don't care about what you have been through.... They eventually figure out how to get the process done around the time that you get your home rebuilt....IMHO the SBA is the worst of the lot as from what I have seen they are totally clueless....

David Doe

Another reason that if you want something done DO NOT depend on the government.

Leigh Cowart

Remember the FEMA trailer park they put up on Stewart Rd across from Luke's in Galveston? Why couldn't they have done something like that? Where is the playbook, the handbook on WHAT TO DO AFTER A HURRICANE.....??? Why do they make people suffer so needlessly and for so long?

Randy Chapman

Exactly! That would have been the best scenario.

David Floyd

This story was so open ended. What is the holdup? Connection contractors or the utilities?
BTW: There is no such thing as the "Dickinson Water Department". There is WCID #1 which furnishes water to the Dickinson area as well as others. And if the original house has water service, it should still be connected and ready to connect to the modular house. That would be by some contractor, not the WCID or City.
Same for the electrical service.
Why not contact the Dickinson Building Official and see if the necessary permits have been taken to perform the necessary plumbing and electrical services to connect this modular house.
That would be a story.

Walter Manuel

Excellent point David! [thumbup]

Gary Miller

Warning! I'm from the government and I'm here to help you. Dickinson will recover eventually but dealing with bureaucrats will leave a bad taste for years. Don't forget the bureaucrat delaying everything has a booklet with all the excuses that have been approved by his boss.

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