FEMA trailers might be safe

Nineteen trailers at a mobile home park near Grovetown, initially deemed uninhabitable, might be livable after all, a Columbia County official said this afternoon.

 

The state Fire Marshal’s Office believes the trailers can be inhabited, but the county won’t grant a certificate of occupancy until the safety of the trailers can be confirmed by the federal government, said county Director of Development Services Richard Harmon.

Area officials have been waiting many weeks for a response from the federal Housing and Urban Development regarding the trailers at the Arrowood Mobile Home Park on Wrightsboro Road.

Officials believe the trailers were used as temporary housing in the Gulf Coast area for those displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Later, it was discovered that some trailers contained dangerous levels of formaldehyde, a common preservative used in construction materials. Medical studies show that prolonged exposure to formaldehyde can lead to breathing problems and might cause cancer.

Still, the trailers were labeled with HUD stickers identifying them as habitable.

The trailers at Arrowood were purchased by a Florida-based broker at a government auction held by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which failed to remove many of the HUD stickers before selling them.

FEMA marked the trailers as scrap, meaning they were not to be used as residences, but many wound up being owned by KDM Development Corp. in Pittsford, N.Y. That company owns 48 trailer parks in 18 states, including Arrowood, according to its Web site.

Executives at KDM Development have repeatedly failed to return phone messages.

 

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