Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Evacuating FEMA Trailers

With Ernesto out in the Gulf, I began to reconsider my evacuation plan. Our plan had always been to retreat to Atlanta and return as soon as possible it always worked well, except for last time, well you know what happened.

Since we are now living in a FEMA Travel Trailer I have my few remaining clothes in the trailer and my relatively few other possessions stored. I think I might clean out the trailer as much as possible and put at least my clothes in the trunk of the car.

FEMA as usual has come up with a completely dada series of rules regarding the placing and removal of trailers.

We have all heard that FEMA bought several thousands of House Trailers for use in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. Many of these trailers are parked in a field in Arkansas, reportedly because FEMA has a rule that says that they can't put House Trailers in a flood plain. The rule is justified because they can't move them out of the way of flood like the more mobile Travel Trailers. I guess they never bothered to look at the NFIP maps which show virtually all of Louisiana south of I-10 is a flood plain.

They did however realize that Katrina was a hurricane and that there could be another hurricane at any time. I guess the four hurricanes that hit Florida in one year was the clue. In order to protect residents of Travel Trailers FEMA decided that Travel Trailers must be connected to the local sewer system, set on blocks, with the wheels off the ground and anchored to the ground with metal straps to improve wind resistance. In order to meet the needs of the disabled many Travel Trailers are fitted with large wooden ramps, every trailer was provided with fancy steps. They are effectively immobile.

In addition to these already severe impediments there are the operational problems of moving more than 100,000 Travel Trailers in advance of a hurricane. Since the paths of hurricanes are so unpredictable there is seldom more that 3 days warning of a storm, just look at the changes in Ernesto's predicted track.

If you assume you have at most 3 days to relocate the 100,000 trailers placed because of Katrina. You need to move 33,000 trailers a day. If you assume you need to drive them 250 miles to safety, one truck and driver could move little more than one a day. If you have two drivers per tow you might double that. If you assume a crew of four could disconnect and prepare 2 trailers per day for travel, you would need 16,000 crews and 64,000 workers.

During the same time, mixed in with the 100,000 Travel Trailers, approximately 1,000,000 people in 400,000 cars would be evacuating. That doesn't include bringing them all back.

Does that make any sense to anyone?

Wouldn't it be much simpler and cheaper to simply waive the "no House Trailer in a flood plain" rule and replace any trailers that might get destroyed?


Sophmom said...

I'd say it was unbelievable, but it's not even surprising after all this. Great post.

It was so nice to meet "Mominem" this weekend!

Mike E said...

'House trailers.' 'Travel trailers.' Guess it don't take long living in one to see them all as 'disposable trailers.'

How much to replace the entire trashy-tin fleet? I wonder. More than a single Iraq-bound bomb?

I understand the in-city floodplane sinks along economic lines. Do they not want the poor to return home because they get a better Deal on labor from immigrants?

Thanks for the hard work on your good blog.

Tim said...

You are so right about that. What's the point of having a travel trailer that don't travel? Once you strap it to the ground, it's just a trailer, so why the boneheaded rule?

I have a neighbor living in an RV that he plans to keep even after his house is rebuilt. He calls it his "escape pod."