The Sun Herald reminds us it’s May Day for the 1910 Mississippi residents that have relied on FEMA housing assistance for some or all of the 44 months following Hurricane Katrina.
As of Thursday, 1,849 Mississippi households were living in FEMA trailers. In Louisiana, there were 3,006. FEMA said the $5.6 billion housing assistance program was the largest federal temporary housing operation in the nation’s history. At its peak, 143,000 households along the Gulf Coast were living in temporary housing units.
Make no mistake about it, every one of those 143,000 grateful households came with a story. Some of those stories we know well. One of the three post-Katrina moves Mr. and Mrs. Polizt made before he died, for example, was in and out of a FEMA trailer.
Among the remaining 1,849 living in a FEMA trailer here, like the 3,006 in Louisiana, are those who come with a story like that of Brenda Steele told in today’s Sun Herald.
Steele…her husband and children moved into a FEMA owned mobile home in July 2006, four months before her husband died. She once worked 16-hour shifts, but feels she can no longer afford a job. Her children would lose their Medicaid, she said. One of her daughter’s prescriptions is $600 a month.
In addition to her family’s health problems, her mobile home is on a piece of land to which she does not have clear title. She said her husband inherited the property from his mother, but the deed had not been transferred to his name.
She is uncertain what she will do, other than wait to see if FEMA comes for the three-bedroom mobile home, packed with donated furniture and curio cabinets brimming with glass angels. Her husband’s ashes sit in a box among them.
FEMA will come, when I don’t know. When it does, the trailer Brenda calls home – the place where she grieved for her husband and consoled their children – will be hauled away.
A place of ashes and angels that means the world to her. The Brendas of our nation, never get a bonus – some never even get a break.