Clinton landowner, FEMA at odds over MHU park

CLINTON, LA (WAFB) - It's been a very rough summer for Eugene Matthews. He underwent radiation treatment for cancer and lost his home in the August flooding. For now, he's living with his sister, but what he really wants is a place of his own.

"I'm used to my own. I really want my own, it's hard," Matthews said.

Matthews is like many residents who rent housing in Rileyville, a small neighborhood in the town of Clinton that was hit hard by floodwaters. Because they are renters, they don't have land to place a FEMA mobile home on, and the nearest commercial mobile home park is 20 minutes outside of the city, so victims are looking for a better option.

Matthews says the large amount of driving would make life difficult. He's hoping for a spot closer to the city.

"I'll be comfortable. It won't... the stress will be off. The stress, it's a stressful situation for everybody here," Matthews said.

Clinton landowner, Lee Allen Haynes, believes he has the solution. He has eight acres of land on Plank Rd. inside the city, right across the street from a small shopping center.

"I just became a concerned citizen," Haynes said. "And that's what I've been doing, trying to get the FEMA park here."

Haynes wants to place FEMA mobile homes on his land, and he's offering to hook up the utilities himself. He has been in discussions with FEMA since November, but he says he's had less and less communication with the organization and wants to see more progress.

"I said, send the trailers, and we will put the trailers in," Haynes said.

WAFB requested comment from FEMA, who sent this statement:

FEMA was approached in early November regarding Mr. Haynes offer to consider his property for a group site for manufactured housing units. Within the immediate area of Rileyville, six survivor families are licensed in to manufactured housing units, another nine are eligible and pending. Within 20 minutes of Clinton FEMA has secured 25 pads in a commercial mobile home park, with infrastructure in place. These are available and we can act quickly to move eligible families there. Our agency partners have been actively working in this community to develop a long term recovery group to assist with unmet needs. FEMA will continue to work with survivors on their cases. We encourage any residents with questions about their cases to call 800-621-3362 or to visit a Disaster Recovery Center.

Haynes believes that this site is the best option for victims and he says he's willing to do anything to get this park set up. "I just know something, we got about 36 families displaced, and this is ridiculous."

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