FEMA trailer

Jeff Jenny stands outside his FEMA trailer in Dickinson on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. Jenny has been unable to utilize the trailer as there is no electricity.

It has become clear that neither the state nor the federal government had a workable plan for providing temporary housing after the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

This is despite the fact that both have years of experience in dealing with similar natural disasters. Despite the hurricanes and other floods of the past, they both are still just winging it.

The most recent evidence comes from Dickinson where a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer has been sitting in Dorothy Anderson’s front yard on Longwood Lane for about a month and a half, while she continues to reside in her flood-damaged house.

Anderson, who shares her home with her son, Anthony Anderson, received the trailer about six weeks ago, which would have been about 10 weeks after the flood.

She’s not seen inside the trailer, much less moved into it to live, because it has not been connected to water and sewer services.

It’s clear that this situation is the norm, rather than some blip in an otherwise well-functioning program.

Anderson’s experience is the same in its important details as what befell Jeff Jenny, who we reported in late November couldn’t live in the large trailer blocking his house on Woodland Drive in Dickinson because contractors hadn’t connected it to electric service.

And the same as Erika Ortega’s, who also waited weeks for services to be connected so she could move into a FEMA trailer.

Anderson told a Daily News reporter that a contractor arrives every few days to work on the trailer, often at odd hours, but no one has told her when she might be able to get in it.

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

It’s an aggravating situation, and here’s why:

This is not a matter of whether the government should invest heaps of public money toward providing safe, sanitary housing after natural disasters. That’s a debate for another day.

Whether doing so is right or wrong in principle, the government has committed to spending and is in the process of spending billions of tax dollars on post-disaster aid.

Every one of those trailers represents a substantial public investment. Every time a contractor shows up it represents a bill to the taxpayers.

This will cost the public a lot; that’s a given.

The only question is whether those public dollars are going to be spent in ways that do some public good, or whether they’ll be spent in ways that funnel public money into private pockets without accomplishing much of anything else.

What we see here is the latter.

It’s past time for officials at every level of government to get these efforts out of the mud and working efficiently.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com


(4) comments

Walter Manuel

"The only question is whether those public dollars are going to be spent in ways that do some public good, or whether they’ll be spent in ways that funnel public money into private pockets without accomplishing much of anything else".

Bingo Mr. Smith, you hit the nail on the head.

While FEMA appears to be doing something to help all those individuals who have been affected by the hurricane, they have also allowed a delay in the recovery process especially by allowing their contractors to work "odd hours" and the job not getting done.

Perhaps their hope is that everyone will believe that their agency did what they are paid to do, but hopefully those trailers won't ever be used and they can recoup most of their money that was spent on these trailers?

FEMA is already auctioning off other trailers that were used by families following hurricane Harvey, so why not eventually get a higher price tag for these brand new, unused trailers?

This just doesn't pass the smell test and it appears FEMA and the people that they have hired to do the work know exactly what's expected of them.

What a shame!

PD Hyatt

I would like for M. Smith to tell us when a government run program works at the lowest cost possible? IMHO government is not meant to do what everyone is expecting them to do. Every time government shows up to tell you that they are here to help, you need to run as that help is going to be very expensive as the government is very inefficient in doing everything that they do and costs We The People a fortune in everything that they say that they are doing for us.... If people would carry insurance they would not need the government to come in and bail them out. If we looked at our government balance sheet we could see that We as a nation are bankrupt and if someone in our nation tried to run a company like the government is allowed to run then they would end up in prison for fraud.... Someday our nation has got to wake up and realize that our government can not do everything for us and we need to learn to do for ourselves just like we did when our nation was first started....

Pam Wilder


Doyle Beard

read somewhere once that more people want to live at the expense of the government not realizing or caring that the government lives at the expense of the people.

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