The devastated neighborhoods in Joplin will soon be a community again, although of a different sort, and in a different location. The Federal Emergency Management Agency says a temporary trailer park is on its way.
A look at the numbers: 7,500 homes were affected by the May 22 tornado in Joplin; 624 families remain in need of homes. FEMA says 15 people are still living in the Red Cross shelter, and they will be placed at the top of the list to be put in trailers — some of 348 that will be installed near the Joplin airport. About 9,000 people in Jasper and Newton counties have registered with FEMA as having been affected by the tornado.
FEMA’s Chrystal Payton says rental property is scarce and finding a site for the trailers has been a challenge. However, the city has put on hold plans to construct a safety center and the construction site for that project will serve as victims’ new homes until theirs can be repaired or rebuilt.
Payton says the Army Corps of Engineers will be in charge of contracting construction for the pads and utilities on the 50 acre site. Construction should begin within a week. It’s estimated the homes will be move-in ready in 45 to 60 days.
By law, the proposal must be posted for public comment for 14 days — that period has been shortened to three days because of the urgency to get people into secure homes as they work to repair or rebuild the ones they’ve lost. Some FEMA trailers have already been installed at existing commercial trailer parks — 11 of them are already occupied.
FEMA temporary housing is rent-free for up to 18 months and utilities are paid for.
Pam Willis, a FEMA housing specialist for Joplin, says the number of those needing homes is constantly changing, for instance, some victims might be staying with family members now, but will need to have their own place on a long-term temporary basis.
The trailers are 60 feet by 14 feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom and are already furnished.