Removing Trailer Homes Easier Said Than Done

Repair work to Melissa Gold Garcia's storm battered house got underway just two weeks ago.

The former Miami resident moved into her West Gulfport home just six weeks before Katrina hit. She and her animals rode out the storm in the attic. Since the storm, her modest home has been replaced by a FEMA trailer.

"It's been claustrophobic, been very claustrophobic. Can't wait to get back in my house," said Garcia.

The timetable for moving back in is open ended. She faces frustrations familiar to so many trailer dwellers.

"I applied for this $30,000 grant. And of course it's a waiting process. I don't even know if I'll get it. And all the funds are running low," she said.

Garcia is hopeful it will be just a month or two before the home project is finished. The holidays will be spent in the trailer.

"I just can't wait to get back in. That's all I want, you know. I just want my home back."

"Next Christmas, we'll be in there," said Darlene House, pointing from her trailer porch to her new home under construction.

The House family is building new home next door to their trailer on 18th Avenue, just off Second Street. Despite another Christmas of trailer-living, they remain hopeful this holiday.

"You look out the window and you see this house and you see what it is. And what it can be. Then you realize, okay, this trailer is only going to be temporary," said Darlene.

The new home is slowly taking shape.

"Doing most of the work myself and with volunteers, which I'm very thankful for. We've had many," said husband Ernest House.

"You have frustrations. You've lived in this house for 25 years and then you're in a smaller trailer and then you have to answer to FEMA and to the city," said his wife.

Ernest House says the family was blessed to receive a FEMA mobile home rather than a smaller trailer. As for a firm date for moving into the new home, that's difficult to say.

"There's a season for everything. And I'll be in my house when the season is right," said Ernest.

The often agonizingly slow process of transitioning out of trailers isn't limited to residents. Several asked: How long will the City of Gulfport be operating from trailers?