Matthew’s Damage Less Than Feared, FEMA Feels Pressure To Accelerate MHU Program For Louisiana Flood Victims
As Matthew sideswiped the Eastern seaboard this past weekend, potentially preparing to take another destructive swing at inhabitants of the Bahamas, FEMA officials are feeling the pressure to accelerate Louisiana’s Shelter at Home program.
It’s Monday, October 10, 2016, and those are our manufactured housing headlines for the past week. Sit back, get comfortable, and let’s drill down on some facts.
As one of the most feared storms in recent history finished its unwelcome tour of the Eastern seaboard, the skies were blue, the sun was out and many were getting back to their normal activities of daily living. The power flickered back to life as Florida’s entertainment parks prepared for this week’s crowds, and Gov. Rick Scott said what most people felt: “We are blessed that Matthew stayed off our coasts … and blessed we didn’t have a direct hit.” Pre-storm admonitions to residents to evacuate coastal areas was indeed justified and judicious considering the well-informed belief that this particular storm had the characteristics that would make it one one the more powerful and devastating weather events to strike the southeastern Atlantic seaboard in many years. Those in the wake of Hurricane Matthew were indeed fortunate and yes, blessed. Florida and the southeast are heavily populated by manufactured home residents. As the storm approached these areas in its projected path, field reporters and talking heads of the major television cable news outlets, including Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN, were encouraging all residents to evacuate the coastal areas, and rightfully so. We could not help but notice that all of these outlets mentioned that those living in manufactured homes or “mobile homes” were especially at risk. One Fox reporter even conjectured that those living in manufactured homes would “most likely not have a home to return to” after the storm. Leading a Walker County official to issue a warning to those living in lowland areas to evacuate, “especially those living in mobile homes.” Another reporter cautioned that people should expect devastation in areas near the coast, “especially those living in manufactured mobile homes.” We understand that misconceptions surrounding the issue of storm safety and manufactured homes still exist. Despite the fact manufactured homes produced since 1976 are equally as safe – or – unsafe, as site-built homes, in terms of wind and fire safety. Anyone still believing the archaic mischaracterization and disproven myths are invited to access our most recent blog post on the topic:“Hurricane Hermine: Manufactured Homes vs.Traditional Homes”
While Louisiana’s emergency manufactured housing units, supplied by FEMA, suffered delays caused by installation issues, victims of hurricane Matthew crossed their fingers in hopes of a quicker response. Apparently, installation issues are why so few MHUs are occupied nearly two months after the storm and flooding. Only 279 of 790 units have been placed onsite and have someone living in them. That’s well below the 3,373 manufactured home units that FEMA has ordered for flood survivors. In the meantime, the Shelter at Home program aimed at getting people back into their homes quickly is also progressing slowly but is further advanced than the MHU program. The program allows for up to $15,000 in basic repairs to be done to a house to make it inhabitable again. The idea is that families would be able to live in their houses while more repairs are done to the home. The work is done at no cost to the people enrolled. It is the program of choice for government officials, much preferred over giving someone a manufactured housing unit. But so far, only around 1,000 homes have been completed through the program and FEMA says around 20,800 have registered to use it. FEMA to spend $128.5m for Shelter at Home repairs. MFH Notes: Flood victims and lawmakers are concerned that in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew that flood aid to Louisiana victims will continue to be delayed as FEMA will be attempting to tackle two major disasters simultaneously.
FEMA is scheduled to end the hotel assistance October 18. But Louisiana officials are requesting it be extended another month. There are 2,564 families receiving assistance to live in hotels and motels across nine states after the flood. That amounts to a little fewer than 9,000 people, according to Justo Hernandez, deputy federal coordinating officer for FEMA.