WAVELAND, Miss. – Space No. 154 is near the end of the dusty campground road out in Buccaneer State Park, but inside the 30-foot Keystone trailer that sits there a new beginning is under way for Shane and Ivy Jordan.
Surrounded by ice chests, kids’ bikes and lawn chairs, the travel trailer is now home for Katrina survivors Shane, 26, Ivy, 24, up to five kids at times and a finger-nipping Jack Russell terrier named Ellie.
Welcome to FEMA-ville by the beach, one of many such encampments that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up across the region ravaged by the Aug. 29 hurricane. In Hancock County, 3,456 trailers were occupied as of Monday, according to the county’s Emergency Operations Center.
With maybe 300 square feet, the trailer is a far cry from the two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,000-square-foot Bay St. Louis apartment the Jordans called home until Katrina tore half the roof off and sent water four feet up the walls of the second-story residence.
But the lack of space and privacy are really the only negative issues the couple will mention, well aware that other families are still waiting for trailers and grateful that Shane’s job as a rookie Bay St. Louis police officer jumped them to the head of the line.
This 30-foot travel trailer is home to Shane Jordan, his wife, Ivy, five kids and a dog. Click "Play" below the image to hear Shane and Ivy talk about their new lifestyle. (Jim Seida / MSNBC.com)
Shane and Ivy weren’t high school sweethearts. Had they been, they likely would have been voted “cutest couple.” Thin, tall and pretty, blue-eyed Ivy’s dark hair falls to the middle of her back. Clean-cut, compact and quiet, Shane looks every bit the U.S. Army Ranger that he was until June, serving in Iraq in the 509th Airborne, 1st Battalion, until June.
When it comes to the trailer, “the biggest difficulty is just storage,” Shane says.
Sleeping by day
Well, says Ivy, that and when “he tries to sleep during the day because he works at night …” Shane finishes her sentence: “The whole trailer rocks if anybody moves.”
But “the kids love it,” Ivy says. The couple have their own two sons, 6-month-old Taylor and 5-year-old Ryan, and they take care of their nephew Joel, 11. In addition, Shane’s kids from a previous marriage, Terrell, 6, and Katelyn, 8, are frequent members of the household.
“I don’t mind it,” Shane says. After all, “I just got back from Iraq.” Adds Ivy: “I don’t mind it either, as long as we can find somewhere to put our stuff.”
A lot of the overflow is sitting outside for now, some of it on a deck that Shane just finished building with salvaged fencing and pallets. “This will keep us out of the dirt.”
Inside, an eight-foot-square bedroom at the front of the trailer houses a queen-sized bed. The main living area, which features a pop-out section is probably 12 feet square and contains a couch, dinette and small but complete kitchen. A tiny hall leads to the bathroom with its mini shower and sink. A third 6-by-8-foot room in the back houses four bunks for the kids.
“I don’t cook very often in there because it’s so small you turn the stove on and it heats the place right up,” Ivy says. “So we use the microwave a lot and my husband cooks on the grill a lot. We eat a lot of Pop Tarts, cereal and sandwiches.”
Trailer is theirs for 18 months
The trailer is not much, but it’s theirs, at least for the next 18 months -- if they need it that long. It’s a good base from which to plot the future.
For Ivy, that’s a return to college to finish work on the associate degree in business that was interrupted with just five weeks to go by Katrina. For Shane, it’s settling into the rhythm of 12-hour shifts on the police force.
For the family, it’s a chance “instead of renting to buy, which we were trying to do anyway,” Shane says, maybe even build their own place. “Hopefully, some good will come out of it.”
Their financial situation is actually improving because there’s no rent to pay on the trailer, no utility bills, “all that stuff that was hard to handle because he’s a police officer just starting out, making $9 an hour,” Ivy says.
And “we’re young,” she says as Shane’s favorite country singer, Brad Paisley, launches into a tune in the background. “It’s easy for us to start over. We’ve got plenty of time.”
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