Federal officials sold hundreds of emergency trailers for disaster victims at fire-sale prices in the months before Hurricane Sandy churned toward the United States, The Washington Examiner has learned.
Now, with thousands of families left homeless in New York and New Jersey by the hurricane, those same federal officials are poised to spend more taxpayer dollars to buy brand-new trailers.
In all, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has sold nearly 900 of the prefabricated temporary homes – none more than four years old and most used only once – since 2009, according to the newspaper’s analysis of federal surplus property auctions.
The agency even sold two trailers on Oct. 22, the same day the National Weather Service upgraded a tropical depression and christened it Sandy. Forecasters began warning the same day of a possible super-storm making landfall somewhere in North Carolina or further north in heavily populated areas of the Eastern Seaboard as far as Maine.
Neither FEMA Administrator Craig Fugateduring a Nov. 8 news teleconference, nor other agency officials in the days since could say how many trailers were in the agency’s inventory in the week prior to the storm, or how many have since been requested from FEMA by residents in the areas hit hardest by Sandy. The agency depends upon state officials to tell it how many units are needed.
Fugate said FEMA would buy or lease additional units “if necessary,” and said his agency has “looked at our ability to contract for additional (units), which would come from new manufacturing or come from existing housing stock,” an agency spokesman told The Examiner that 40 units were at a staging area near Lakehurst, N.J.