FEMA asks Weld County to help find locations for temporary mobile homes #COflood

Evans Colorado September 2013 via TheDenverChannel.com
Evans Colorado September 2013 via TheDenverChannel.com

From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

FEMA is calling on the Weld County community to help find places to put temporary mobile homes for flood victims, citing a lack of response so far from local mobile home parks willing to allow the units. The agency is searching for about 24 spaces that could accommodate single-wide mobile units for flood victims for up to 18 months, said John Mills, media relations manager for FEMA. Mills said that number could fluctuate up or down but is based on the number of people currently taking advantage of FEMA’s temporary housing program, which puts up displaced families in hotels or motels. The housing units, which are manufactured and brought in wherever disaster strikes, are a last resort for those who completely lost their homes and can’t find a place to stay even with the help of FEMA, Mills said.

Greeley just hit a record-low apartment vacancy rate, at just 1.3 percent, and Mills said the agency has had a difficult time finding available mobile home pads in Weld County.

Becky Safarik, Greeley’s assistant city manager, said the city already identified 50 open spaces in two mobile home parks where FEMA could place the modular units. She said the open pads in Greeley are at Stoneybrook and Friendly Village mobile home parks, both off of 35th Avenue. Of the spaces identified, she said 12 spots have been permitted for the FEMA trailers.

Mills said FEMA has been “unable to secure those pads at this time.” He said he did not have enough information to say why.

Phone calls and messages to the owners of Stoneybrook and Friendly Village were not returned to The Tribune on Wednesday. But Safarik said one issue for the parks or possible tenants could be that the mobile units run on electric heating instead of natural gas, which is much more costly in Colorado.

In Platteville, Valley Village mobile home park, at 731 Grand Ave., will take in 15 temporary FEMA units, said manager Jillian Weaver. While accommodating the extra units wasn’t a problem for Valley Village, Weaver said she could imagine most other parks in Weld County are already full.

Such was the case for Circle Drive Mobile Home Park, at 101 and 133 N. 21st Ave. in Greeley, said manager Oscar Hernandez. Hernandez said putting up temporary units at this point could also be damaging to business, because the park is after permanent residents who purchase their mobile homes. He said the park’s growth would be sacrificed to accommodate the temporary units. Hernandez said he didn’t get a chance to discuss with FEMA the possibility of purchasing the temporary units after flood victims use them. He said his discussion with the agency was abrupt and he felt pressured to give an immediate answer, so he answered no. Four families displaced by the flood have purchased homes at Circle Drive, Hernandez said.

Roy Rudisill, emergency operations manager for Weld County, said he supplied FEMA with a list of 86 mobile home parks in the county, although some of those were the ones destroyed in the flood.

Ed Zamarripa, owner of Alta Vista Mobile Home Park, 2040 4th Ave. in Evans, said he has not been approached by FEMA, but sent a request to the city of Greeley to see if he could permit some additional slots in his park because he has received so many calls from others wanting to park their mobile homes on his lot. Zamarripa, who is also a real estate broker, said he’s already seen five houses sold to those affected by the floods. He said he would also be interested in establishing a new mobile home park for flood victims that could later be turned into residential housing.

Keith Cowan, owner of Eastwood Village Mobile Home Park, which was destroyed by the flood, and three other parks in Greeley and Evans, said he placed six families in the few vacancies he had among his parks, but he now has just three spaces available.

“I had Eastwood 100 percent full, and everybody in there owned their own home,” Cowan said. “It was a really, really hard thing for people in there to try and find a home.”

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