Dont let the trailers to others

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 7, 2008

The issue: Federal Emergency Management Agency trailers are back, and the tornado victims in Tennessee and Arkansas may get them. Meanwhile the government has offered refunds to those sold.

Our position: Let the buyer beware, but don&8217;t dole them out.

Despite national publicity about possible formaldehyde contamination of FEMA travel trailers and mobile homes, many of the units are being used by people who don&8217;t want a refund.

Email newsletter signup

A report out of Florida reveals that people are asking that the government re-institute sales, which were discontinued in July, after mounting concerns about formaldehyde. In January, FEMA announced a refund program. As of mid-February, there have been only about 300 requests for refunds.

It appears the government has taken a turn on the trailers and decided that if this many people want to live in them, then the public might have forgotten enough that the trailers can be used to house victims of the tornadoes that recently raked Arkansas and Tennessee.

FEMA has begun testing some of its mobile homes for high levels of formaldehyde in hopes of releasing them to those victims. The tests began Wednesday night in Portland, Ore., where the agency had some mobile homes on stand-by for victims of a flood Dec. 8.

As soon as the generators are set up, testing will begin on the trailers in Selma and in Hope, Ark. If the levels aren&8217;t too high, the government will release the trailers.

The Centers for Disease Control has said that any level of formaldehyde isn&8217;t safe, but the government said it&8217;ll have Tennessee and Arkansas tell the victims of the tornadoes that fact.

Seems ironic that the government would offer people who have lost everything, and in some cases, those who have little hope, a coffin in which to live.

Trust your government in this case?

We don&8217;t think so. Just this week, Rep. Nick Lampson, a Texas Democrat, said FEMA tried to control the outcome of a scientific study on formaldehyde in trailers used to house victims of Hurricane Katrina. Somebody from the CDC reported the findings to the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, a Mississippi Democrat, brought to the public&8217;s attention an internal CDC e-mail that showed despite the efforts to bring to the public the dangers in the trailers by scientists, they were thwarted by bureaucrats who head the agency.

FEMA has denied all this.

Of course it would. They hold the keys to the boondoggle.

The federal government needs to eat this turkey financially and get on with helping disaster victims in meaningful ways.