MHU deliveries triple after Livingston OEP director calls out FEMA

LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Livingston Parish's Office of Homeland and Emergency Preparedness director Mark Harrell said FEMA is cooperating and three times as many housing units rolled into the parish compared to just a few weeks ago.

"Well I'm thrilled that someone went to bat for us, because that's why I called you. I want people to go to bat for Livingston Parish," said Harrell.

Two weeks ago, Harrell told FEMA to quit with the lip service and do their job after numerous Livingston Parish residents complained about how long it was taking to get a mobile housing unit (MHU). After that interview, Harrell met with FEMA a few hours later and again last week. Monday, he offered this update:

"Up to two weeks ago, FEMA was averaging to maybe seven a day deliver to the parish with MHUs, and the with those deliveries, it would take weeks to get them installed where they could be occupied. So in this last week, they have delivered 151, and out of those 151, they're saying that 80 of them are licensed in, that's their term, and completely installed ready to be occupied."

Two weeks ago, Harrell gave FEMA a spreadsheet requesting detailed information on people waiting for a unit. The response he got from FEMA was some notes. Monday however, he had a massive spreadsheet filled out for nearly 1,800 people in the parish who have requested a unit, plus a status update on each case.

Becky Reeves waited four months to get a FEMA housing unit. On Friday, she returned home to one sitting in her front yard without anyone telling her it would be delivered.

"I'm glad to see someone is fighting for us," said Reeves, who is thrilled to have a temporary home, but she can't get inside the trailer. "Well I'm 5 foot seven. He measured it and said the highest one to be blocked is 44 inches and ours was blocked at 48."

Plus, because the unit was delivered without her knowledge and when she was not home, no one knows where the keys are. She's also told there are no straps on the ends to secure the unit in place.

"And they would either take this unit out and replace it with another one or figure out how to fix this one," said Reeves.

She's frustrated with the extended delays, but still thankful she's finally received a unit. Meanwhile, Harrell said he will continue fighting for the people until everyone has a temporary home. Just be patient, he says.

"It feels real good you're accomplishing something," said Harrell.

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