Business

EXCLUSIVE: FEMA Trailer Driver Speaks

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A couple weeks ago I found an interesting comment in our FEMA Trailers post. Apparently, Jimmy Hall says he drove some of the FEMA trailers to Arkansas and Florida. Since then, I’ve emailed back and forth with him and he’s provided us with photos that only an driver could have taken. Some of them are presented here.

Forgive me Jimmy, but I’m going to do a little editorial work on your comment and break it into paragraphs.

(NOTE: The photo you see above was sent in by Donklephant reader Douglas McDowall. Thanks again Douglas!)
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I know a little about this issue as I was one of the drivers that delivered some of the houses that are in Hope, Arkansas. I would like to comment on some of the above statements. Returning the trailers to the manufactures would cost tax payers more than just keeping them down there. FEMA paid up to eight dollars (and in some places in Kentucky they paid for the truck fuel) a mile to move these trailers when regular freight on one of these trailers is around two dollars a mile.

What happened is, people such as Jackie Williams from Ga created his own company, and then contacted FEMA for a contract to supply X amount of houses for the victims. FEMA then paid these individuals, or their companies, large amounts of money to supply the houses and deliver them to the FEMA holding areas. The individuals then contacted the manufactures and contracted to buy thousands of homes. By the time it got to the driver we received around five dollars a mile.

When this happened everyone wanted in on the money making deal. Drivers that owned their own trucks rushed to get mirror bars and house hitches welded on their trucks so they could start pulling trailers. By the way these are the same guys that usually cussed us for being on the interstate when they came up behind us. Fly-by-night house haulers it what I usually called them.

The government waived many laws regarding transporting of manufactured houses for the hurricane victims. We could pull them at night, no permits required, no pilot cars required, there were drivers out there that had no idea on how to safely pull one of these things now pulling them 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, with no requirement to keep up with our log books.

Don’t get me wrong, I was in line like the rest of them, but I have 15 years behind the wheel with 9 years experience pulling trailers. Arkansas must have seen a golden opportunity here because Little Rock decided to put a stop to any night movement, issue tickets for log books, all equipment must be exact. They even put a DOT (department of transportation) officer on the lot inside the gates in Hope, Arkansas. He gave more tickets out to drivers over little things than the whole state gave out in speeding tickets.

Now as for the trailers setting, I delivered a couple of trailers, to Tallahassee Fl. at the old Blue Angles AFB. They stated that they have houses that were delivered last year for the hurricanes that hit in 2004 still sitting around, and what is sick they stated they still haven’t received all of them. So Hope is not the only place these houses are stored. Hope is the only place that is sinking and destroying them. In Selma Alabama, not only do they have an abundance of houses they have travel trailers stacked in rows that go on forever. FEMA bought 150 brand new Ford F350 Dually pick-up trucks to move these around on the lot. A little much don’t ya think? Brand new Gators, four-wheelers, you would not believe the things I have seen.

Now to the issue of trailers going bad, no they do not just go bad they have to be damaged first. See Fly-by-night house haulers above. Also FEMA decided they wanted to store as many houses as they could (more houses more money I guess) so they had us park them as close as we could get them to one another, sometimes about 6 to 8 inches apart. This is fine if they are on stable ground. What’s happening now is when you mix the rain in with the soybean field the ground is soft so the houses are now falling into one another. Another thing, not only are these houses filled with new couches, refrigerators, stoves, mattresses, and bed frames in every home they also have microwaves, kitchen tables, dressers, nightstands and the heat and air units along with all the duct work to install the units. This is something FEMA demanded and would not accept any trailer with out them. I have many pictures of the Hope, Arkansas confusion if anyone would like to see them. The government wasting our money? The public doesn’t know the half of it!

Sorry this was so long, I just needed to vent!
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Wow, thanks for that Jim. It lends me some needed perspective on this issue!

An Army of Davids indeed.
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UPDATE:
FEMA is now offering to sell these trailers to the people who were living in them…

UPDATE:
Apparently, the public wants FEMA to be out from under the Department of Homeland Security.