Homeless Marmaduke Residents Finally Getting Moved Into FEMA Trailers

APRIL 27, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:30 P.M. CST

MARMADUKE, AR -- "The local contractor has been taking out trailers each day to the sites and setting them up. We already have people living in them and everybody seems to be very happy," says Billy Sheehan, the site manager for the FEMA trailer staging facility.


'Pleased Overall' was the main response we got from the people in Marmaduke Thursday. They're making progress, but regardless, they still have to go through all the red tape. Once the homes arrive, they are sent to the staging site, inspected, repaired if needed, and then, finally sent out to the resident.


Once the home arrives at the resident's property, there's still a lot of groundwork to be taken care of such as plumbing and electricity and when you're trying to get all that hooked up, it can be a drawn out process.


"We do not allow the family to occupy the home until it is completely ready to be occupied, so there is no general time frame to use. It's all done on individual case," says Gary Grabow, the Disaster Recovery Center Manager for FEMA.


We were able to go inside one resident's new mobile home. Judy Wheat and her husband have lived in Marmaduke since 1972 and lost everything in the storm. She said they felt the process has been fairly quick.


"They would tell us it would be a few days and then would get to us quicker than we thought they would. Everything to me has gone faster than I thought it would," says Judy Wheat.


She said it actually only took only a few days to get the home hooked up once it was on the property. They brought it on Thursday of last week, and she said by Sunday they had the keys. Wheat even went on to mention that FEMA shouldn't be given such a bad rep.


"It seems like to me they've really been on top of things and kept things moving pretty fast. I know when you don't have a place to stay, you get to thinking that they're not, but I think that they're doing really good," says Wheat.


So how do they feel about their new home?


"It's nice. It's not really home yet, but it's a place to come," says Wheat.


Regardless, Wheat said they are thankful to finally have a place to live again and for now, this is what they'll call home.


FEMA also told us that as of Thursday, they have 30 mobile homes delivered to residents' property, and 5 families were completely hooked up and moved in by the end of the day on Thursday.