End May Be Near For Tent Cities

Every day around mealtime, a huge tent on Fleitas Avenue is a hub for hundreds of hungry people in Pass Christian. The makeshift cafeteria mainly serves people like Vivian Monus, who lives in the tent city next door.

The hot meals are just one of the amenities at "The Village." Volunteers are constantly trying to make the military-looking compound feel more like home for the 120-tenants.

"It's good here. They take good care of me," Monus said.

FEMA shells out about $1 million a month to run the tent city, as well as the ones in Harrison County and D'Iberville. The agency wants to move as many of the displaced people into trailers as possible. So by the end of the month, one of those tent cities will have to close.

"The end of January is the deadline. We're obviously under max capacity. We're going to need to look at that, because it's just costing the government, you and I, both money. We want to make sure that doesn't happen. So we can shut one, maybe possibly even two down, if we have to," said Civil Defense Director Joe Spraggins.

Spraggins says the January 31st deadline may have to be extended, depending on whether FEMA can set up trailer parks in time.

"Hopefully, by the end of February, we can have all our trailer cities built to a point to where we can close these tent cities down," said Spraggins.

And Vivian Monus says she's looking forward to something more permanent than living in a tent.

"It hasn't been hard. Not really. But I'd like a trailer, yes," said Monus.

The tent cities opened in early December, so hurricane evacuees could move out of shelters in schools and community centers. Civil Defense officials have not yet decided which tent city will have to close.