Say what you will about FEMA.
The federal agency, which by most accounts stumbled badly in the Hurricane Katrina disaster of 2005, seemingly has delivered in Flood Cedar Rapids. The final analysis, of course, won’t be known for months or years.
But FEMA this week announced that it has provided or will provide within days a FEMA manufactured home to each of 435 households who asked for one.
This goal was met even as Cedar Rapids City Council members were still worrying that those displaced from June’s flood would be left homeless come winter.
The goal was met despite the fact that FEMA had to remove some 300 homes it had brought into the state of Iowa after questions were raised by Lt. Gov. Patty Judge and Mayor Kay Halloran about mold in an exterior compartment of some models of FEMA homes.
This goal was met even after FEMA agreed to try to purchase manufactured homes from Midwest dealerships rather than hauling the homes into Iowa from large FEMA stocks of homes in Arkansas, Maryland and elsewhere.
FEMA still has not reported on a bid process, which ended last week, to find Midwest-based homes.
FEMA representatives report that FEMA continues to bring about 15 FEMA homes into the state a day to meet the larger disaster-relief need for temporary housing in the state of Iowa. FEMA adds that it will have homes available should additional need arise in Linn County.
City Council member Monica Vernon and Linda Langston, chairwoman of the Linn County Board of Supervisors, both expect more people will seek FEMA homes in the upcoming weeks as those now living with family and friends look for other arrangements.
Nonetheless, Jim Ernst, president/CEO of Four Oaks and the Affordable Housing Network, told the City Council Wednesday evening that it should not be “overly concerned” about the need to find more temporary housing.
“I don’t think right now that is a critical issue,” Ernst said.
He noted that FEMA had provided 4,600 households with rental assistance of two months or more since the flood. FEMA reports that some of those households continue to receive rental assistance other than in FEMA homes, while others have returned to their homes or have found permanent residence elsewhere.
Flood victims in need of temporary housing can contact FEMA at 1-866-274-4392 or 1-800-621-FEMA.