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Temporary housing available for residents affected by fires

By Special to the News-Journal
Oct. 11, 2011 at 11 p.m.


Temporary housing units are rolling out this week to eligible Texans whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed during the recent wildfires, officials from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday.

Several dozen manufactured homes have been brought to Texas for eligible wildfire survivors and their families. The temporary units will be placed as close as possible to the location of homes that survivors are rebuilding or repairing. Eligible households are being identified based on a need for temporary housing while their primary residence is under construction.

The manufactured housing units are part of a larger state/FEMA housing program using several resources to house eligible residents displaced by wildfires on or after Aug. 30. While rental homes and apartments are preferred, the temporary housing units will provide a short-term answer for some displaced Texans.

The temporary units will be placed in areas where the demand for rental homes and apartments far outstrips the supply.

Because of the extent of the destruction in Bastrop County, FEMA said eligible survivors there are likely candidates for manufactured housing. Units also will be placed in other counties as the need is identified.

"Manufactured housing can be an excellent short-term solution for Texans driven from their homes by this disaster," said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes of FEMA. "Our goal is to ensure everyone has a safe place to live."

The units will be provided for up to 18 months.

Two types of housing units are available. Park models are 12-by-34 feet, with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Mobile home models are 14-by-60 feet, with three bedrooms and one bathroom. Each version has a model that meets the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards for people with disabilities.

After arriving in Texas from Selma, Ala., and Baton Rouge, La., the units will be inspected and prepared for occupancy. They then are moved to survivors' property, if feasible, or pads in commercial mobile home parks in designated counties.

The units come fully furnished and move-in ready, with a stove, refrigerator and a microwave oven. Furnishings include a dining set, living room set, beds and chests of drawers.

All units, including furnishings and appliances, are new and built to quality and workmanship standards higher than those mandated by law. Each FEMA temporary housing unit has been tested and passed an indoor air quality test to verify compliance with air quality standards established by the state of Texas.

The units will be made available to eligible registered survivors.

Texans can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov, via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov, or by calling (800) 621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call (800) 621-3362. FEMA phone lines are open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, and multilingual operators are available.

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