Blogathon for Pearlington

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Field O' FEMA

There is a field alongside I-59 at Purvis, Mississippi that has become a kind of local landmark in “the new normal.” It’s full of empty FEMA campers. Thousands of them. And it’s not the only field like this in the new “GO Zone.” I’ve seen this in Louisiana as well and seen news reports of this happening elsewhere.

Why, you ask? Why after nearly a year are there still undelivered trailers sitting empty while Katrina victims are already being told they’ve had their temporary housing too long?

WLBT in Jackson says it’s all a matter of good old American red tape.

The Sun Herald reports that some of those trailers in Purvis are actually the ones being returned to FEMA after families return to their homes.

For months, every time I drove past that field I thought “each one of those campers represents a family in a tent.” By now I think most people are doing slightly better than a tent, but I wouldn’t say that means everyone who needs a FEMA trailer has one either. Many people have simply not come back, and I’m sure that one of the reasons for this is the amount of red tape required just to get started in the starting over process. And I don’t know how many of you have been in a FEMA camper, but they aren’t exactly the Taj Mahal. Lots of families have way too many people crammed into one camper, and I have seen families even as late as this summer where part of the family was still sleeping in tents even though they had a camper to provide at least some shelter (along with one, tiny camp-sized bathroom for everyone to share). Still, by now most of the larger families seem to have more than one camper—boys sleeping in one and girls sleeping in the other, or dad and the older kids in one and mom and the younger ones in the other.

At any rate, I don’t know what the field o’ campers is about in Purvis, but it’s beginning to look a lot like government inefficiency to me.


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