NBC 4 New York
Some Sandy victims in New Jersey are taking matters into their own hands as FEMA trailers that would provide temporary housing sit empty. Brian Thompson reports
FEMA expects to start setting up a fleet of its mobile home trailers across Sandy-ravaged areas of New Jersey in the next week to week and a half, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Spokesman Marty Bahamonde confirmed the long-awaited action while stressing that the trailers, equipped with kitchens and bathrooms, will not go on individual properties.
By law, FEMA cannot put the trailers back in a flood zone next to a house already damaged by Sandy, Bahamonde said, citing the possibility of another storm and another flood damaging what is government property.
That will come as a disappointment to Union Beach's Ed Lemkul and his wife Betty, who say they are at the top of the Union Beach list for a FEMA railer.
"It's really hard. It's really, really hard," said Lemkul, describing how his extended family of seven is living in two rooms at a Holiday Inn hotel in Hazlet.
While no trailers will go on homeowner's property, Bahamonde said the list of displaced residents needing transitional housing keeps growing, and the agency is looking at other alternatives as well.
That includes Fort Monmouth in Eatontown.
Closed just a couple of years ago, FEMA and the Christie Administration announced Monday that an additional 375 housing units will open at Fort Monmouth, in addition to the 45 announced recently.
It is not clear when that housing will be available, although workmen have been at the fort for at least the past several days preparing it for displaced persons.
As for the trailers, many of which have been stored at the Six Flags amusement park for the past couple of weeks or so, Bahamonde said his agency has identified hundreds of available commercial sites, which he said are in mobile home parks where they will soon be located.
Neither of these options are intended to be permanent homes for Sandy victims, but rather to give them shelter until they can either move back into their damaged homes, or if destroyed, find new homes.
NBC 4 New York has learned that there is also an effort underway in New Jersey to find a university willing to sponsor a multi-million dollar revolving fund to finance the purchase of modular, factory-made homes while also using their students to help in neighborhood rebuilding.
Such a university has yet to be identified, however.