Thursday, May 3, 2012


This is a true story that happened after Katrina.

My brother-in-law offered his back yard as a FEMA trailer site for a friend of his. He thought it would be easy to install as he had kept a 40’ Airstream trailer on the same spot, complete with hookups, for several years. However, with FEMA, nothing is easy. This is his story.

First, FEMA had to inspect the site to make sure it was suitable for a trailer. M brother-in-law told them to be sure to call because he wasn’t on the property and the gate was locked. One day he got a call.

“We’re here.”


“At the gate to your back yard.”

“Well, I’m across the river so get a soft drink, smoke a cigarette and I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

When he arrived to let them in, he found not one, but two FEMA inspectors. Their only job was to measure the site to make sure the trailer would fit. Two guys, with only a tape measure! I guess there must be a FEMA job description somewhere for the guy holding the “dumb end” of the tape. But, then my brother-in-law already knew that it should be possible to fit a 34’ trailer on the site where a 40’ trailer had been. He asked them when the trailer would arrive.

“Couple of days or so.”

About a week and a half later he gets another call.

“We’re here.”

“Do you have the trailer?”, he asked.

"No, I’m just the escort. The trailer is on the highway.”

(That’s right. They had an escort for a camping trailer. Not a permit load. Not an oversized load. But a camping trailer that any bozo with a trailer hitch would be allowed to tow anywhere.)

So he goes back and opens the gate and the driver sets the trailer. Out of curiosity, my brother-in-law asked the driver how much he made. Turns out he makes a flat fee per trailer plus mileage to deliver it. For this one, his take was about $500. And that doesn’t include the escort guy. Now, this is a camping trailer. And almost everyone in South Louisiana has a pickup truck with a trailer hitch capable of hauling the thing. But our government feels it is necessary to pay people hundreds of dollars to deliver their trailers.

But the driver doesn’t do the hook up. And when will the guy be there to hook it up?

“Couple of days.”

As you have probably guessed, another week and a half goes by when he gets another call.

“We’re here to hook up that trailer.”

So he meets the guy and points out where to run the sewer hose and where to plug in the extension cord. (Remember, his personal trailer used this same site) But wait, FEMA says the plumbing must be hard piped and the electrical run in conduit. During that process, my brother-in-law has to tell the guy to re-locate the electrical meter because it will interfere with the push out section of the trailer. Then, the guy jacks the trailer off the ground, sets blocks under it and ties it down with hurricane straps.

OK, we know the thing may have to go through next hurricane season, but this is a trailer in a land where most people have pickup trucks with trailer hitches. If a hurricane is coming, doesn’t it make sense for the occupant to be able to hook up to the thing and tow it someplace safe instead of leaving it there to be destroyed?

When the hook up guy finishes, my brother-in-law asked him for the keys to check everything out.

“I don’t have the keys. Another guy will be here in a couple of days.”

Sure enough, about a week and a half later, the key guy shows up and everyone is happy and the tenant moves into his new FEMA supplied trailer. The plumbing hook up is so good that the first time he flushes the toilet, its contents is deposited on the grass.

That is why you can’t trust your life to FEMA.


Old NFO said...

Ah yes... Gotta LOVE the bureaucracy...

Rico said...

What? FEMA isn't perfect, like the IRS and OSHA? Damn, I'm disappointed...