FEMA Waterfront Trailer Park Creates Concern

West Gulfport residents don't understand why FEMA seems to be putting people in harm's way. At issue is a trailer park under construction between 42nd and Broad Avenues, just off the water.

FEMA says it makes sense because the land is not in the flood plain and there was already a trailer park there before Katrina.

Once finished, the site will accommodate 76 FEMA mobile homes and travel trailers. But neighbors worry about building so close to the water.

"First of all, people have to have a place to stay, there's no doubt about that. I just don't know why they're putting it in harm's way," said Tom Achee.

Neighbors acknowledge the site has been a trailer park since 1952. They also know what Katrina did.

"These tin cans on wheels are going to roll right back up in our yards again. Here we've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to get our neighborhoods back together. And you're going to tear it up in one shot," said Roy Viall, who lives just a half block north of the FEMA trailer park.

A FEMA spokesman says the park will provide much needed temporary housing. But is the waterfront a wise choice?

"Well, it was a quick way to provide housing for a number of people who needed it. And the thing we want to emphasize is we certainly want them to heed local government warnings to evacuate," said spokesman Len DeCarlo.

As for those FEMA trailers becoming storm driven missiles, DeCarlo offers this reply.

"Get away from harm's way. Don't worry about that trailer, that's our problem."

He added, "We hope there won't be anybody in harm's way when it happens, if we get another storm, that they will evacuate."

West Gulfport neighbors voiced their concerns and presented their petitions at a Ward Two meeting several weeks ago. They were told by city leaders since the land was already zoned for a trailer park, the city could not stop the project.

"Why are you putting them in harm's way? Every time there's a storm you're going to have to evacuate people. Now you're going to leave the trailers there," said a worried Roy Viall.

Neighbors hope the trailers will stay put, but say that's not likely in a strong storm.

FEMA spokesman Len DeCarlo stresses the trailers will be temporary. He says the agency has limited options regarding locations and the West Gulfport site was easier to approve since it was already zoned for a trailer park.