Five years after Hurricane Katrina made headlines and flooded New Orleans, one of America’s most beloved cities, the saga for the victims of this disaster is not yet complete.
One of the problems that faced both victims and the agency tasked with helping the displaced residents were the so-called FEMA trailers. From the beginning, there were complaints about the trailers and, indeed, there were some serious health risks discovered on closer investigation. Formaldehyde, a gaseous chemical that is associated with myriad health concerns, was discovered to be present at relatively high levels, presumably emanating from the manufacture materials present in the trailer.
Now, the City of New Orleans has decided that it would like to move beyond these trailers and has labeled the remaining 221 trailers as blight on the City. Officials have issued an order that trailer residents need to move out of their mobile edifices by 2011 or face fines of up to $500 per day. At one point there were more than 23,000 FEMA trailers in and around New Orleans and for some people, the trailer took on a sense of permanence and home. By forcing out the last 221 families, the City may be setting the stage for much criticism from the media and other city governments. To preempt criticism, the City has stated that compassion will be used in considering each occupant’s case and potential for moving elsewhere. However, they hope to have the City clear of trailers by March 2011.