Following an afternoon conference call with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) released a statement today voicing his concern over the agency’s response to the housing and humanitarian crisis still impacting thousands of New Jersey residents.
I was disturbed to learn of FEMA’s altered plans to provide temporary housing to hurricane Sandy victims. In the immediate aftermath of the storm I like most New Jerseyans, took solace in FEMA’s promises of housing assistance to those whose homes were badly damaged or destroyed by the hurricane. I believed that FEMA would honor its commitments to ensure that people who lost their homes would be furnished with temporary alternative housing like trailers or mobile homes as we have seen after similar disasters throughout the nation.
Unfortunately, I am far less confident in FEMA’s willingness to assist our community in light of a conference call I participated in today with agency representatives. I was told that, rather than maintaining their earlier commitment to provide adequate temporary housing to towns for those seeking to stay on their own property, FEMA is no longer planning on providing mobile homes and trailers.
Instead, the agency suggests that New Jerseyans make accommodations on their own if they choose to stay on their property and in their communities. The agency suggested that residents use their FEMA vouchers and to contribute to the cost of acquiring and renting RVs, mobile homes and trailers from as far away as Pennsylvania.
In short, it is outrageous that there is not enough hosing available for Sandy victims and even more confounding that FEMA is suggesting that housing stocks are adequate. I find it concerning that FEMA’s statements on today’s conference call directly contradicted their tone from earlier on in the Sandy crisis. For Sandy victims, the stress of rebuilding and or rehabilitating their homes has been unfathomable. People are still struggling more that a month after the storm and trying to regain any sense of normalcy possible to get their lives back on track. The last thing they need is to worry that the deck is even further stacked against them as a result of FEMA’s unwillingness to provide temporary housing.
It is vital to the survival of our communities that our neighbors stay together, our kids stay in their schools and we rebuild our towns, public facilities and infrastructure swiftly and thoughtfully and we need FEMA to help us in that pursuit.
I urge FEMA to utilize their available resources and distribute as many mobile home units as possible to New Jersey’s affected areas. People are running out of resources and patience and it is time that FEMA fulfills its commitments and comes through on its promise of assistance to our area.”