FEMA has begun sending manufactured housing units into fire ravaged Northern Californa, but it continues to stockpile the trailers at McClellan Business Park where over 50 units are parked. More are on the way, but so far, only six have been sent to fire areas, and three to Butte fire victims in Calaveras County.
FEMA officials say it has to go through a process of qualifying victims for housing assistance which includes the trailers. Those who have insurance that pays for emergency housing aren't eligible. But they also say the trailers aren't the first housing option.
"The first option and the best option for the applicant is money so they can obtain rental housing in the area," said Donna Weise of FEMA's disaster Housing.
If a trailer is an option, it not a simple process to get a trailer onto a property. There has to be water, sewer, and electric hook-ups available, and a large trailer has access to the site. Another important requirement is that the site has to be cleaned up and that is no simple matter. Heavy metals, toxic chemicals, and asbestos have to handled safely and must go to designated dump sites.
Cal Recycle provides free clean-up with properly trained crews wearing certified safety gear. The service is financed by emergency disaster funding. In Calaveras County, it has 130 workers on numerous crews doing clean-up. Given there were 475 homes and hundreds more buildings destroyed, property owners may have to wait their turn.
Those doing their own work will have to get permits and inspections. All of this means that those who qualify for FEMA temporary housing units may have to wait longer than they want. But FEMA says its transitional housing program is working to pay for rental units for qualifying victims who need them.