New concerns about maintenance for FEMA mobile homes

New concerns about maintenance for FEMA mobile homes

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On a mobile device? Click here to take a look at the mobile housing units

They may be an upgrade compared to the FEMA trailers after Katrina, but maintenance issues in the new FEMA mobile homes are causing headaches for some flood victims.

Sharon Dell is among those already living in a mobile home. She is staying in a newly established park along Blount Road in North Baton Rouge.

"It was a relief to move into here and to have a bed, and some peace and quiet, and a key to a door," she said, explaining that she was excited to be able to cook for herself after staying in a shelter and hotel for more than a month.

However, less than a week after moving in, she began to face a problem that interfered with that plan: her refrigerator would not keep her food cold. She said the faulty fridge ruined more than $70 in groceries, which she purchased using DSNAP benefits. That left a nauseating stench throughout her temporary home.

She also may have lost medication costing more than $100.

Dell called FEMA's designated maintenance line several times over the past few days, but she said they were simply not helpful.

"The maintenance department - they didn't care," Dell said.

The receptionist on the line even recommended she buy a new fridge herself, according to Dell.

"We have to have someone to help us maintain what's been given to us. I don't know how to fix toilets, I don't know how to fix refrigerators, I don't know how to fix the stove," Dell said.

Finally, after more than 24 hours since the first phone call, a crew arrived with a new fridge. Workers installed it, although it could not fit under the shelves.

Across the trailer park on Blount Road, others have been a little more successful with maintenance issues. A maintenance crew took about nine hours to respond to James Reed's mobile home. He had several inches of dirty water backing up into his bathtub.

"They say it could probably could take two days and then after I got kind of loud and said, 'Hey, two days, what do you mean two days?' And then they said, 'We'll send a guy down there,'" Reed said, recalling his call on the maintenance line.

Still, he felt the wait should have been shorter.

"They should have been here maybe an hour or two after I called," Reed said.

Regardless of their experiences with the maintenance crews, however, there is still one universal feeling amongst residents in the trailer park.

"I'm like Dorothy, I really want to click my heels and go home," Dell said.

A spokesman for FEMA said they were not immediately aware of any issues with the maintenance line, though promised to look into it.

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