Supervisors: No More FEMA Trailer Parks In Hancock County

No more FEMA trailer parks in Hancock County. That word came Monday from the Hancock County Board of Supervisors.

The trailer park issue surfaced at Monday's board meeting after FEMA representatives asked county leaders to lease property at the County's Equine Arena in the Kiln to build a new park.

"Today, we just feel like it's not in the best interest for the County or the Federal Government to spend the money out there to go forward with that park," Board President Rocky Pullman said. "Collectively, we really don't want to have anymore parks in the County."

Those words followed a unanimous vote by County leaders denying FEMA a lease to build a new trailer park on the grounds of the county's horse and livestock arena.

"We're hoping that some how or another the Governor's grant money comes through and happens where people can start getting it quicker where it can expedite people getting back into their homes," Pullman said.

A letter from the board that oversees the arena property urged county leaders not to lease the land, saying a FEMA park would be detrimental to the growth of the arena.

"I'd just like to know if you guys have any other solutions where I can put these 111 people? Cause come May first, I have 111 people who have to be relocated somewhere," FEMA's Greather Heatcook said.

Right now, those 111 people live in the Gulfview Park in Lakeshore and the Russell Park on Old Spanish Trail in Waveland. The Hancock County School District wants its land back to plan for rebuilding Gulfview Elementary School and the housing authority was recently awarded a grant to build public housing on the Russell site.

"It's... a challenge of finding out what's available. It's up to local governments to tell us where they have that available space," FEMA's Philip Strouse said.

County leaders say they offered FEMA the livestock arena property a few months after the storm, but Supervisor Pullman says the federal bureaucracy moved too slowly.

"That's not a viable option. That is over. We are withdrawing that from the table," Pullman said.

FEMA is still looking for a Hancock County site that will satisfy supervisors and is not located in a flood zone or in wetlands. FEMA currently has nine group trailer sites in Hancock County.

Most of the 31,000 travel trailers and mobile homes in South Mississippi are not in group sites. FEMA representative Sydney Melton says 85 percent of them are actually on private property. And with the Governor's request for an extension past the 18-month deadline, people living in trailers will probably enjoy the "rent free" status until March 1, if the extension is granted.

"At this time, until I hear what the proposal is that's coming out, it's hard to say. But most likely if they extend this, I would imagine they would not have the rent in it," FEMA Section Chief Sydney Melton said.

There's no word yet on when the President will make a decision on the Governor's extension request.

By Al Showers