JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- Some of the people left homeless by the Joplin tornado could be placed in rental housing nearly an hour's drive away, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Monday it will consider bringing in trailers, as it did for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, if enough homes are not available.
FEMA's first option for housing the thousands of displaced is to find them existing rental housing within a 55-mile radius of Joplin, because isn't much housing left in in the town of nearly 50,000 residents that was left badly damaged by the May 22 tornado, spokeswoman Susie Stonner told The Associated Press.
Stonner said that despite the distance, putting people in permanent housing is preferable to trailers -- especially in an area prone to tornadoes and severe weather.
"Wouldn't you prefer to be in a stable building over a mobile home?" she asked. Stonner also noted that getting things like water, sewer lines and developing pads for trailers would take substantial time.
A housing task force has been established to find homes for the Joplin homeless, comprising FEMA representatives, other federal agencies, state and local officials, and representatives of volunteer organizations.
The temporary housing will be made available for up to 18 months, though some people along the Gulf Coast continue to live in FEMA trailers nearly six years after Hurricane Katrina.
Another FEMA spokesman, Bob Josephson, said the agency will consider bringing trailers to Joplin if enough existing housing isn't available. He said every effort will be made to find existing rental units closest to Joplin and that many residents may simply choose to find their own housing options.
People who lived in the 8,000 structures smashed in the storm have scattered to the homes of friends and relatives or camped out in emergency shelters in the city. Some may leave town -- New Orleans lost nearly one-third of its population after Katrina.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)