By Melissa M. Scallan / Mississippi Sun Herald
GULFPORT - State and local emergency management agencies want to have everyone displaced by Hurricane Katrina in travel trailers by the end of the year.
Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, was in South Mississippi on Wednesday and said 16,000 travel trailers and mobile homes have been delivered and set up in this area.
Officials expect more than double that number by the end of next month, Latham said.
"Housing is our top priority," he said. "Temporary housing is just that. What we've got to start doing is looking at more-permanent housing."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has set a time frame of 24 months for people to get out of trailers.
For those who haven't received trailers, tent cities in Pass Christian and D'Iberville opened Wednesday. Another tent city is expected to open in Harrison County next week.
The tents, constructed by Seabees, have hard floors and outer coverings and contain showers. Laundry facilities are being built on site, and FEMA is providing food.
"Gov. Barbour wanted to make sure local governments had options," Latham said. "It's been a challenge, but it seems to have worked really well."
The deadline is Nov. 26 for FEMA to pay 100 percent of housing, debris cleanup and other costs, but Barbour is asking for an extension.
Right now, FEMA also is paying for people from across the country to travel with cleanup crews and look for remains of people killed in the storm.
"We knew there was a possibility that there could be some bodies in the debris," Latham said. "These spotters are trained, and they can stop work immediately so we can treat these people with as much respect as possible."
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