Made homeless by Katrina, and now FEMA

Tue May 19, 2009 7:24pm EDT
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By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Nancy Menne has been living in a government-issued trailer since August 2005, when Hurricane Katrina swamped her home in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans in 9 feet of water.

Come May 30, the deadline for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repossess the trailers, Menne may be sleeping in her truck.

While waiting to get the house repaired, Menne, who works nights as a waitress in a French Quarter restaurant, has lived in the trailer parked on the front lawn of her house.

"My house withstood the hurricane. It was the government's levees that broke and ruined it," she said, gesturing at the house, which still lacks siding. "Now I have this trailer, and they're going to take that away too."

Over 2,500 Louisiana residents who are still living in FEMA-provided trailers received notice recently that the agency's temporary housing program ended on May 1. They must vacate the trailers by May 30, the agency said.

In some ways, the flimsy, formaldeyde-tainted trailers have become a symbol of the Bush administration's botched response to the storm, which flooded 80 percent of the city, killed 1,500 people and caused more than $80 billion in damage.

FEMA has become a four-letter word to many local residents, and Bush's oft-ridiculed remark to then-disaster chief Michael Brown: "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," is a local joke.

After the temporary program ends, "FEMA will continue to work closely with the remaining households to help them secure state and federal support for their long-term housing needs," agency spokesman Clark Stevens said.   Continued...

<p>Trailers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sit in a lot in Diamond, Louisiana, south of New Orleans July 26, 2006. REUTERS/Lee Celano</p>