FEMA mobile homes are ready to house some Joplin tornado survivors

JOPLIN, Mo. -- Some tornado survivors will soon have a new place to call home, even if it is just temporary.  Ten mobile homes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are in the area, with 50 more units on the way.

More than 500 people have said they need housing after losing their homes in the tornado on May 22.  Mobile homes supplied by FEMA will help meet some of that need.

"Right now, the priority is on the people who were in the shelters and getting them placed.  And then they will go from there -- those people in the worst need.  Everyone has the need; it is the elderly and people who have children that we try to get people back in as soon as possible," said FEMA spokeswoman Pamela Willis.

The mobile homes have more than 800 square feet, three bedrooms and come fully furnished. They'll be placed on existing mobile home park pads with FEMA also paying for utilities. These mobile homes are not the same type of units that generated so much concern about air quality after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

"Those were travel trailers that we were using. These units were built to HUD standards and the air qualities are build to HUD standards. The air quality in these units is great," said Willis.

With so many people needing to find a temporary place to live, city officials say bringing in the FEMA mobile homes was a must.

"There are very limited rental resources within the area that was affected by the storms, and that is why we are bringing in the mobile homes, because there are very few left.  And the ones that were left have been taken up by the residents that have a need for housing," said Willis.

While tornado survivors live in the mobile homes for up to 18 months, they'll have guidance from FEMA in working out permanent housing plans.

"We are less than four weeks into the disaster and we are already placing families into temporary housing.  I think that speaks very well of FEMA working with the city and all the other agencies involved," said Lynn Onstot, a spokeswoman for the City ofJoplin.

FEMA has about 120 sites identified for mobile homes.  FEMA says it will look at expanding commercial parks or building a mobile group park if it's needed.

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