Fla. hurricane victims wait for housing
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Nearly three months after Hurricane Charley devastated parts of southwestern Florida, hundreds of people displaced by the storm still have not received temporary housing.
About 650 people have been placed in travel trailers or mobile homes in Charlotte County, one of the hardest-hit counties, but about 500 more units are needed, said Dennis Kizziah, manager for the Port Charlotte field office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Ben Davis, a FEMA strike team leader, said officials are still going door to door to assess the need in Charlotte County. Many of those displaced are staying with family and friends, renting apartments or staying at motels.
DeSoto County has 2,344 people who qualify for temporary housing, but only 758 who have requested it. So far, 341 have been supplied with travel trailers. In Hardee County, 147 of the 265 people who have requested temporary housing have been supplied with trailers, Kizziah said.
Hurricane Charley blasted through the three counties Aug. 13, destroying thousands of structures.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the delay was unacceptable.
"The question that has to be asked, 90 days after the hurricane, is why are we only able to supply travel trailers and mobile homes to half the people who need them?" Nelson said.
Kizziah and Davis said there were initial problems coordinating with local authorities and with permitting issues, but those have been smoothed out.
Adding to some residents' problems was a recent Division of Motor Vehicles advisory that led to a ban on the relocation of older mobile homes. The advisory is under review by the DMV at the request of Gov. Jeb Bush, whose office was concerned about the effect on homeowners displaced by development.