By the turn of 2008, there will be no more FEMA trailers in the city of Gulfport. At least, that's the goal of city leaders. People who still live in FEMA trailers will soon be getting notices about the deadline in their mailboxes.
Just weeks ago, all of the FEMA trailers at the Broad Avenue Park were vacated and hauled away. Four FEMA trailer parks remain in the city. Gulfport leaders aim to have them shut down by December 31. The deadline also applies to people who have FEMA trailers on personal property.
"We're really concerned, first of all, that FEMA has made me personally, as well as the Council, aware of the formaldehyde issue. When you have that with the children, and those difficulties, and now we're also based on the national trend that they're not going to do the air quality studies. We need to see that our citizens are safe," said Ward 3 Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines.
The city has already extended the deadline twice. The last time was in August. The city sent out a letter then, informing FEMA trailer occupants of the impending December 31st deadline.
According to FEMA, there are still 1,850 FEMA travel trailers and mobile homes in the city of Gulfport. Another letter will be sent out to occupants of these trailers this week, as well as more surveys about where people are in the rebuilding process and what needs they have.
"In the FEMA trailer parks, we're looking at our disclosure to try to see how we can get our citizens out of the FEMA trailers now, out of parks, and into cottages or into FEMA's rental assistance program, which I feel is a fabulous idea for people who are in the trailers," said Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines.
Council members advise FEMA tenants who have special needs, circumstances or questions to call the city's Urban Development Office or City Hall as soon as possible.