“The state of Texas is about to undergo one of the largest recovery-housing missions that the nation has ever seen,” Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long said during a news conference Monday. “It’s a long process. Housing is going to be very frustrating in Texas. We have to set the expectations.”
Since last Friday the Daily Business News has been tracking Hurricane Harvey, the devastation left in its wake, and what it could mean for manufactured housing.
What was originally estimated to be just under $40 billion in damages has quickly turned into $100 billion or more, per Newsmax.
The Daily Business News has also reported that FEMA is already gearing up for what Long estimates could be years trying to rectify housing needs in Texas.
“Once you start to wrap up the life safety mission and you’re moving citizens who may be trapped or isolated, you’re trying to get them to a shelter, you’re trying to minimize the time that they spend in that shelter,” said Long.
As the search and rescue phase begins to draw to a close, thousands of households are thinking in terms of long-term shelters. FEMA’s goal is to support Texas – and now Louisiana – to get storm victims out of shelters and into some form of semi-permanent or permanent housing near their communities and jobs, as much as possible.
“Housing is going to be very frustrating in Texas,” Long said. “And we have to set the expectations. But we already have disaster housing assessment teams on site. We’re already working very proactively with the state.”
Those who have no financial means to obtain new housing will have access to disaster assistance, which will find them accommodations at motels or apartments.
So far, more than 22,000 have begun the application process for emergency disaster assistance, per USA Today.
“The goal of this is, if we can’t put you back in your home because it’s destroyed or because the floodwaters are there and are going to be there a while, we want to get you out of the long-term sheltering,” Long said.
FEMA’s Manufactured Homes Will Be an Option for Thousands Displaced by the Storm
“Thousands of manufactured homes are pre-positioned to respond,” said Vice President Mike Pence to Sean Hannity on his radio show.
FEMA says that this time, manufactured homes are being used as a last resort accommodation, when there are no longer hotels or apartments available for housing.
“The last resort is to bring in manufactured homes and travel trailers,” Long said.
“But that is a long process,” he added. “We don’t start dragging in manufactured homes and travel trailers right off the bat. They’re not going to be on your property tomorrow by any means.”
While Long said that they will bring in manufactured housing, but will also use travel trailers, at least one industry professional is questioning the accuracy of that statement.
Mark Weiss, President and CEO of the Manufactured Housing Association for Regulatory Reform (MHARR) says he thinks that inaccurate.
“Well, they’re lumping manufactured housing in with RVs, which is wrong factually and also not FEMA policy as I understand it. That policy is to use federally regulated HUD Code housing and not RVs,” Weiss told MHProNews.
In his interview with Hannity, Vice President Pence added that manufactured homes would be available sooner “thanks to president Trump signing a disaster declaration before the storm even hit.”
Pence used the correct terminology each time he spoke about the issue of manufactured homes. A HUD Code producer in Indiana, where Pence was governor, told MHProNews that the vice-president he was “well informed” on the issues, including the use of proper nomenclature.
Another source concurred.
“Vice President Pence is well versed in manufactured housing,” Ronald L. Breymier, Executive Director, Indiana Manufactured Housing Association (IMHA) told MHProNews. “He is originally from Columbus, Indiana and even before he was elected Governor he was familiar with our industry due to a friendship with one IMHA-RVIC’s board members (now deceased) who owned manufactured housing communities. As Governor he was sensitive to and responsive to Indiana’s manufactured housing industry.”
Weiss told MHProNews “that saying that MH are the last resort may reflect the practical logistical reality of getting manufactured homes into the disaster zone in significant numbers, right away.”
Texas MHA Will Help Provide Housing
FEMA is not the only ones who will be working to provide housing for the Texans who lost their homes in this devastating natural disaster.
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, numerous private and corporate groups, and the Texas Manufactured Housing Association (TMHA) are all among also doing what they can to help residents get back into homes as soon as possible.
“TMHA has pledged to help in both the immediate future and long term rebuilding efforts to come. We are organizing within our membership ranks to prepare in the event our industry, in particular, came play a role in the recovery efforts,” the association told MHProNews in a release.
TMHA has asked retailers and communities to take stock of their inventories should they be asked about help housing those who were displaced. They said they have not been asked yet, but have been in the past.
Gus Rodriguez of Tejas Homes, near Conroe, TX was among the retailers that told MHProNews that they were gearing up to assist flood victims looking for housing. The retailer indicated that they closed during the heaviest parts of the storm, but were re-opening and ready to go with a good level of inventory.
President Trump Thanks Everyone for Working Together
Earlier this week, the White House Press Room told MHProNews that, “Today, President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will travel to Corpus Christi, Texas, where they will receive a briefing on Hurricane Harvey relief efforts with local leadership and relief organizations. In the afternoon, the President and the First Lady will tour the Emergency Operations Center in Austin, Texas.”
During the storm briefing, Trump commended everyone in his cabinet for working so hard and so well together to provide Texans with everything they need to get through this terrible time. The full video of the briefing is below.
Louisiana and the LMHA
“At this point our thoughts remain with those in Texas that are experiencing what we here in Louisiana felt 12 years ago. We remain ready to assist in any way we can,” said Leonard Kopowski with the Louisiana Manufactured Housing Association to MHProNews.
“As far as Louisiana, early reports show nearly 2,000 houses affected and 5,000 residents displaced. The LMHA will stands ready to serve those seeking new homes for their families,” Kopowski said.
“Catastrophic and life-threatening flooding continues in southeastern Texas and portions of southwestern Louisiana,” the National Weather Service said in an advisory this morning. “Excessive runoff from heavy rainfall will cause flooding of small creeks and streams, urban areas, highways, streets and underpasses, as well as other drainage areas and low-lying spots.” ## (News.)
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Submitted by Julia Granowicz to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.