Backlog Locks Residents Out Of FEMA Trailers

"It's like a carrot dangling in front of you that you can't eat."

That's how an Ocean Springs woman describes what it's like to sit day after day outside her FEMA trailer with no key to go inside.

FEMA has contracted a Maryland-based company to deliver and install its trailers. On Tuesday, a spokesperson told us there is a backlog but didn't say how far behind the company is.

When Hurricane Katrina took Claire Brou's house, the disabled veteran who gets around in a wheelchair, applied for housing from FEMA. She says a month later her trailer arrived, but there was no way to get inside.

"I haven't moved in because there's no keys to get in," said Brou.

When the trailer was delivered on Tuesday, August 29th, a note on the door informed Brou that she would need water, sewer and electricity before moving in. Brou says she already paid to have electricity set up, but needed water and sewer to be connected.

For days she went to her property and waited for hours for someone to come. She didn't go Monday, and on Tuesday she returned to find someone had come by, but she still had the same problem.

"The sewer line was connected yesterday, I guess, and the water line was connected, but still no keys. Still no keys and still no way to get in there."

Even with all her utilities ready to go, the waiting doesn't end. She has to go through an orientation before she can move in. That could take a few more days.

"I have a sign that I had somebody gave it to me a long time ago. The turtle only makes progress when its neck is out. Well, my neck has been out a long time, but I'm not making any progress," she said. "I sit down here and wait and wait for somebody to show up."

Bechtel Corporation out of Maryland says so far it has delivered about 6,400 trailers. A spokesperson says the deliveries are arriving faster than the company has been able to install utilities. Bechtel is sending in extra crews and equipment to handle the problem and expect to be caught up in a week.