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At least 1,800 Lafourche Parish residents still without temporary housing after Ida

Thanksgiving in trailers
Thanksgiving in trailers
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:34 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As many prepare for one of the more normal holiday seasons we’ve had in a while, there are still thousands of Louisiana families without a home to celebrate Thanksgiving.

The state celebrates the success of it’s temporary housing program, created because FEMA’s was moving too slow, but leaders in hard hit areas, like Lafourche, say there’s not much to tout.

“It’s only been a few months, but it feels like a year you know, it’s just it’s not getting anywhere,” Brooke Bonvillan said.

Sisters, Brooke Bonvillian and Brittany Adams have been sharing a home with their parents and several other family members for nearly three months now.

“We have four of us staying in one room because the rest of the house isn’t particularly livable,” Adams said.

With mold in the ceiling and without any help from FEMA or insurance, they’ve been making what they can of the situation.

Adams lost her entire house in Raceland and hasn’t been able to get a travel trailer either.

“My son had to transfer schools we had to get rid of our pets,” Adams said. “It’s frustrating to you know, see other people getting it and here we are doing everything we thought we were supposed to do and doesn’t seem to be enough.”

The State says it’s temporary housing initiative has helped hundreds of families. Over 1,300 trailers have been deployed with families inside 820 of them.

“It’s just been as slow, you know, as FEMA’s program,” Lafourche Parish President Archie Chaisson said.

While Chaisson says the concept was great, he says there are still at least 1,800 families in his Parish alone without a roof over their heads.

“We still have people living in their cars, we still have people living in houses that they probably should not be living in that are gutted or are still staying with family and friends,” Chaisson said.

Chaisson says there has been a myriad of reasons he’s been given as to why this isn’t happening at a faster rate.

“We’ve made adjustments on our end that put them below the base flood elevation to do same day inspections when the haul and installer tells us they’re ready, so we made concessions to make it move as quick as we can on our end they need to do the same,” Chaisson said.

After laura and delta showed where issues like this would arise, Chaisson says he doesn’t understand why a better plan wasn’t already in place.

“We have a conference call every Wednesday with FEMA in the state where we we yell at them and Earl Hughes, who’s the Director of Homeland Security for Terrebonne will tell you the same thing,” Chaisson said. “We just beat them up every Wednesday because it’s a shame, again, that it’s taken this long. So, just know that we’re fighting that we’re trying to get them here as fast as we can.”

Chaisson says it’s so families like the Bonvillans and the Adams can finally start to move on.

“Mainly for their [the kids] sake, you know? I mean, we’re adults we can kind of adapt,” Bonvillan said. “That is a little harder for the kids.”

The State says it is getting quicker with an average of 60 trailers being deployed and 40 trailers becoming occupied each day.

The goal is to have all of the 2,000 trailers deployed by early December, then FEMA’s direct housing program will ramp up.

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