MARCH 7, 2007 - Posted at 3:27 p.m. CST
LITTLE ROCK (AP) - A year and a half after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, FEMA is auctioning off at fire-sale prices thousands of trailers used by storm victims. The bargain prices have raised fears among mobile-home dealers that the government will flood the market.
Mobile home dealers are finding that some potential customers would rather wait to make a deal on a used FEMA trailer than drop $25,000 to $40,000.
Some critics of the Federal Emergency Management Agency say FEMA bought more trailers than it needed and now may hurt dealers by selling off the used ones.
FEMA spokeswoman Debbie Wing says agency was preparing to house a maximum number of storm victims. She says the agency is now trying to lower its storage costs by reducing the number it is holding in reserve for the next disaster.
FEMA spent $2.7 billion to buy 145,000 mobile homes and trailers after Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast in August and September 2005. The agency paid a bulk-rate price of about $19,000 per trailer. FEMA now has 60,000 trailers in storage nationwide, the largest cache of which is at the Hope airport. Several thousand were never used.
FEMA wants Hope to be a staging ground during disasters because it's close enough to the Gulf Coast to store trailers but far enough inland to be out reach from hurricanes.