Once again the toxic FEMA Trailers rear their ugly heads. These formaldehyde impregnated boxes, originally rolled out for the Katrina Victims, were later promised to the victims of the Southern California fires of 2007 - although FEMA's actual response, as usual, drew much criticism.
These trailers are now the topic of discussion as the manufacturers and some in Government propose sending them to Haiti for those displaced by the recent earthquakes.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) ― The trailer industry and lawmakers are pressing the government to send Haiti thousands of potentially formaldehyde-laced trailers left over from Hurricane Katrina — an idea denounced by some as a crass and self-serving attempt to dump inferior American products on the poor.
While proposed as a humanitarian effort there is indeed an underlying motive:
For the recreational-vehicle and trailer industry, which lost thousands of jobs during the recession, the push to send the units to Haiti is motivated by more than charity.
Bidding is under way in an online government-run auction to sell the trailers in large lots at bargain-basement prices — something the RV industry fears will reduce demand for new products. Some of the bids received so far work out to less than $500 for a trailer that would sell for about $20,000 new.
Lobbyists for the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association — which includes some major manufacturers in Elkhart, Ind., among them Gulf Stream — have been talking with members of Congress, the government and disaster relief agencies to see if it would be possible to send the trailers to Haiti instead.
"This isn't really the best time for the RV industry to have very low-priced trailers put out onto the market," said the group's spokesman, Kevin Broom.
FEMA has even begun charging rent on the trailers it has already deployed elsewhere:
The Associated Press
CEDAR RAPIDS -- Iowa residents displaced by last year's flooding and staying in Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers will be charged rent after November.
FEMA spokeswoman Crystal Payton says charging rent after a time is a standard practice that is deemed necessary to extend a program. Displaced residents faced a Nov. 27 deadline to be out of FEMA-provided housing.
The one ray of hope, as KCBS reports, is that the trailers are not welcome by neither The U.S. Agency for International Development nor the Haitian Government:
The U.S. Agency for International Development, which is coordinating American assistance in Haiti, has expressed no interest in sending the trailers to the earthquake-stricken country. FEMA spokesman Clark Stevens declined to comment.
Haitian Culture and Communications Minister Marie Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue said Thursday she had not heard of the proposal but added: "I don't think we would use them. I don't think we would accept them."
CH20 at the Lair