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Rising from Ruin is an on-going MSNBC.com special report chronicling two coastal Mississippi towns, Bay St. Louis and Waveland, as they rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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This project is evolving. Our daily dispatches coverage has been retired. Click here to see what happened in the area between mid October and January 1, 2006.

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Responding to reports that formaldehyde may be sickening hurricane victims living in government-provided travel trailers along the Gulf Coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has reversed course and ordered air quality tests to determine if some of the units are emitting unacceptably high levels of the toxic gas.

The tests for formaldehyde — listed as a human carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and a suspected human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency — will be conducted by the EPA, which is currently working with FEMA to finalize a sampling plan, EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood said Thursday.

“EPA does not normally test indoor air … but there’s an exception in the Stafford Act that allows for cooperation and testing in a special situation,” she said.

The testing came under order of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff after he was alerted to an MSNBC.com article published on July 23, reporting on health concerns related to FEMA trailers, NBC reports.

Read previous story: Are FEMA trailers 'toxic tin cans'?

Secretary Michael Chertoff has been “very engaged in the issue” a Department of Homeland Security official told NBC's Pete Williams. The official said that in response to the MSNBC.com story, the secretary directed his staff to look at the matter thoroughly and to “turn it inside out to determine if there was any validity to the claims.”

FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

FEMA spokesman Aaron Walker said the agency has requested the tests for formaldehyde “out of an abundance of caution” and added that agency officials remain “highly confident and comfortable in the travel trailer program.”

He said the agency has received only 46 complaints of suspected formaldehyde contamination in the more than 113,000 travel trailers deployed in the Gulf Coast since it began logging calls on a special hot line in March.

But another FEMA official said earlier this week that the agency already has determined that there is a problem with elevated formaldehyde levels in “two or three brands” of the at least 10 brands of travel trailers provided to the government under emergency contracts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Mike Andrews, FEMA’s director of mobile home operations in Mississippi, made the comment Tuesday night at a meeting of the Pascagoula, Miss., City Council, in response to a question from City Councilman Bill Jones.

'He acknowledged ... the problem'

“He acknowledged we’re aware of the problem and we’re trying to do something about it,” Jones said.

Andrews did not identify the models or manufacturers of the trailers and referred calls from MSNBC.com to a FEMA “news desk” in Mississippi, which did not respond to phone calls seeking additional information.

Walker, the FEMA spokesman in Washington, said he was not aware of any testing already conducted in Mississippi.

An official with the Sierra Club, which has spearheaded efforts to get FEMA to test the trailers for formaldehyde, said Andrews’ remarks indicated “that FEMA has now acknowledged there is a problem.”

“But what about the people who don’t know why they have been so sick, why they and their kids get sick again and again?” said Becky Gillette, co-chair of the environmental organization’s Mississippi chapter. “FEMA needs to do far more. It needs to do comprehensive testing and should make sure that people are notified of the problem.”

Many trailer residents have reported experiencing health problems ranging from headaches and runny noses to chronic respiratory problems and nosebleeds shortly after moving into the trailers.

Responding to the anecdotal evidence, the Sierra Club tested 44 FEMA trailers and found formaldehyde concentrations as high as 0.34 parts per million — a level nearly equal to what a professional embalmer would be exposed to on the job, according to one study of the chemical’s workplace effects.

All but four of the trailers it tested registered higher than the 0.1 parts per million that the EPA considers to be an “elevated level” capable of causing watery eyes, burning in the eyes and throat, nausea, and respiratory distress in some people.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development limits the use of formaldehyde-emitting products in manufactured homes — setting a standard of 0.2 parts per million for plywood and 0.3 parts per million for particleboard materials. But the agency does not regulate travel trailers or motor homes, probably because it was never anticipated that people would spend long periods of time living in them, said the Sierra Club’s Gillette.

Lawsuit seeks class-action status

The reports of respiratory illnesses among trailer dwellers have led to the filing of at least one lawsuit in Louisiana against the federal government and trailer manufacturers alleging that “the temporary housing is unsafe and presents a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of plaintiffs and their families.” The plaintiffs’ attorneys are asking the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana to grant the case class-action status.

Because of the pending legal action, trailer manufacturers have declined to comment on the situation, but the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, an industry trade group, says there is no health risk associated with living in a travel trailer.

Interviewed for an earlier MSNBC.com article, RVIA spokesman Kevin Broom said trailer manufacturers use “low-emitting materials” to minimize the “outgassing” of formaldehyde from wood products used in the trailers.

He acknowledged that the high heat and humidity in the Gulf Coast could increase the rate at which the formaldehyde was emitted in the trailers but said that residents could solve the problem by opening doors and windows to improve ventilation.

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It is hard to believe that these people still have to live like this. These are human beings. I remember when hurricane Katrina hit and we watched endless news coverage on it for days and weeks. I remember thinking "Why is nobody helping these people" and wondering why the government was so slow to respond. They can put billions of dollars into Iraq but they dump these poor people- American citizens- off in poisonous trailers? That is horrible. How long do these people have to live in these trailers? Are they able to work? I know if I lost everything I would be so thankful to walk away with my life. It could be a fresh , new start. I wouldn't waste any time sitting around though. I think that i would be out looking for a job the very next day. So, it is kindof hard to feel sorry for people once so much time has gone by and they are just sitting around instead of getting a job. Come on people! Pull yourselves together and get out there and find work! It would get you out of the poisonous trailers faster! I just think the whole world is completely screwed up and this just adds to it. I can't imagine.

I commented on this article when it first came out. The government/FDA/EPA has known for years that high levels of formaldehyde can cause cancer. I'm living proof after living in a mobile home and then at age 35 developing breast cancer with no family history of it. So the powers above just turn their heads and ignore that people are getting sick. This story is just like what I have recently gone through with breast implants. Companies won't admit that implants make women sick as they have made me sick for the last 12 years. Then when a person is brave enough to stand up and speak out the big companies and plastic surgeons turn their heads the other way. The tests on these trailers will come back doctored or falsified and these poor people will get sicker and sicker.

I work in the RV industry and do have the opportunity to be in a finished unit closed up. Yes the vapors are there and your immediate response is to open a window. After 5 min its very tolerable. I am in these units every day and all is well for me. Most dealers have the units set up and open on their lots. Already aired out. On the other hand I believe those who have suffered a great shock in loosing their homes and personal items and facing not knowing from day to day where they stand weighs very much on a persons health. Not every one responds the same and if you have some pre illness I'm sure the shock of this all didn't make it better.

From what I saw in the response to get trailers together, to help in a great pulling together to meet those needs took place. From manufacturing product purchases and meeting demands to the drivers in caravans to transport. We were Proud to help.

Wow, there are very strong opinions here. I have to agree and disagree at the same time. I read the one from the gentleman who is working non stop and rebuilding his home in his "spare" time and I can relate. At the time of the storm, our dream home was in the process of being constructed, during the construction we were renting an apartment in another location, somehow this resulted in us being homeless and not covered by insurance. We didn't qualify for a trailer because even though we were renting we had a house; however, our construction home was not habitable, as it was just a skeleton to begin with. After the storm you couldn't find construction materials to buy and if you did manage to find materials you couldn't find a construction crew, as the big construction companies stepped in and snapped up the materials and crews for the "big business" jobs. Therefore, home construction became an uphill battle and a "do it yourself" job. Now my husband and I have jobs two states apart and "in our spare time" are trying to piece together our home ourselves that we have never even had the opportunity to stay one night in. I miss my husband and having a home, but our house isn't going to just build itself; we have to work to achieve!
At the same time, it is mind boggling that many people just did not and do not want to work. Last I knew in the area, restaurants were forced to stop seating at 7pm and WalMart closed early at night because they could not find people who wanted jobs. These are the freeloaders and the ones with the attitude "I am, therefore, I deserve." I believe in helping those who help themselves, not those who think "I am; therefore, I am owed everything and more."
For those of you that are hard working and endeavoring to put your life back together, I applaud you. For those you who have donated countless days and hours volunteering with the recovery effort of this catastrophic event, I thank you from the bottom of my heart; we are very grateful. For those of you who are living on the government, waiting for handouts and think you "deserve more," may you forever be homeless without taxpayer or charity help!

Please don't assume all FEMA trailer residents are unemployed, or that everyone still in one had no homeowner's insurance. The ones who are not employed now, are the same ones that were unemployed and on gov't assistance before Katrina- the hurricane did not instill any new-found sense of responsibility in them, I assure you. And people who were responsible, self sufficient taxpayers before Katrina did not suddenly become whiney, needy or reliant on handouts. I know several people who live in FEMA trailers and the vast majority of them are employed, most working more than one job. Many are still paying a mortgage on a house that no longer exists. And if they had a mortgage, they had homeowner's insurance, it would be impossible for it to have been otherwise. These people are taking the money they earn and, after paying their monthly bills, putting every last dollar into repairing their homes on their own. Now, if you're paying your mortgage and repairing your home, where's the money going to come from to rent a place to live in the interim, if the FEMA trailers are not being used? Rents around here have SKYROCKETED, folks... one bedroom apts $900-1000/month, 3 bedroom houses $2400/month, with long lists of people waiting. So, if they are paying their mortgages, working multiple jobs, THEN going home after work or on their days off and repairing their homes to get out of the FEMA trailer you are so vociferously ranting about, what's the problem? Do YOU need the FEMA trailer? Are they taking it from you? Our tax dollars have already paid for them, whether they are being used by people who need them to get their lives back together, or whether they are sitting on some lot unused in Hope, Arkansas or Purvis, Miss...if you need one that bad there's plenty of empty ones not being lived in. Oh, a question for the "just move!" crowd...What would be the effect on the national economy of tens of thousands of Katrina victims defaulting on their home mortgages and moving away, as so many of you short-sighted Einsteins have suggested? Are YOU prepared for a 10-12% interest rate on YOUR mortgages?

What's wrong with those residents? Are they stupid??The stench of formaldahyde is nasty, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the windows have to be opened and the place aired out,then the formaldahyde will disapate and there will be no more problems....unless you're looking for a law suit and in that case this sensationalism journalism will bring about yet another frivolous class lawsuit that makes the attorneys rich and the taxpayers poor.

Amazingly, this is not a new problem people. It took Hurricane Katrina and the trailor problems to also now open your eyes to the issues our children have faced and are facing each and every school year. They are in the same kind of trailors and from the same manufactures. I now urge more of you to move forward to request air quality control throughout the school systems using trailors. Air quality is mandated at places of employment BUT not at our schools. Why???? Schools are using trailors as "long term housing" for our kids and no one seems to care. Do you have children in trailors at school and if you do, I urge you to speak to the school board and fight to have these removed or at least air quality control testing mandated and tests released to the public. You will be amazed at the results. Both my children's trailors had immediate evacuation last year and to our surprise, we did not find out the real reason for 6 weeks. Schools do not like to be in the media unless they can boast about their State scores! My childs health is more important to me and my money is spent better on education in a healthy environment rather than the doctors offices with sick kids.

Formaldehyde outgasses for YEARS, even if there is a complete absence of smell. It is in many, many different products -- one of the most common being carpeting. That new carpet smell...that new trailer smell...should alert, but unfortunately, most of the time formaldehyde is present, you will be unable to smell it. It is a carcinogen and should be BANNED. Regardless of your situation, no one should be subjected to it. It can permanently damaged your health. If you're worried about the costs of better, chemical-free materials, wait until you find the cost to society of multiple, long-term illnesses.

Months? Do you really think people have actually had the chance to live in FEMA trailers for that long!?!?
I live in Louisiana & have seen trailers SIT on land for months without ANYONE living in them. Face it people, our govenment did not take action quick enough after a horrible natural disaster destoyed lives. Unless you live anywhere along the affected disaster area of Katrina, you have no IDEA how long people have suffered or what they have endured. To all the individuals that have the opinion that ANYONE wants to live in a FEMA trailer instead of work, please come to Louisiana & see for yourself!!!!!!!!!!!!
People here are trying to rebuild & move on. I guess there are too many people ready to pass judgement on something they know nothing about..........


If the gripers would just open the windows as much as they do when they are smoking,and just enough for air circulation they could have them open year round and not be subjected to severe heat or cold!!Keep the ceiling vent fans on and the vent lid cracked enough to keep out rain and elements the smell goes away.I have been working on and around these trailers for 40+ years,just had my physical 2 weeks ago,am in perfect health,because I use common sense when an acrid odor is present in a trailer.Also opening the roof vents,tie a 3 dollar plastic drop cloth over the roof for a few days until the smell is gone

Trust me, quite a few of the people living in these trailers don't want to be. They are still rebuilding thier homes, attempting to get supplies wherever they can find them, and are doing the manual labor themselves, since it is so hard to find a contractor that can help.

It's not luxury...it's a roof over your head. And it is horrible that they could suffer yet another blow such as cancer.

It makes me sick that people still are jealous of the assistance that was provided to the victims of Katrina. Not everyone got Debit Cards, so drop the issue. Not everyone is sitting in their trailer waiting for an additional "handout. Quit generalizing and remember that we are all in need at some point. I hope that others aren't as nasty and condescending as some posters have been.

By the way, I have family still living in their trailer while they tear their house down and rebuild from scratch. They aren't waiting on handouts, and they are building it all on their own, pending the new government regulations on housing in their area. They don't want to live in the trailer, but they don't have the money to do anything else right now but be patient and rebuild their lives. And yes, they are working VERY hard to do so. Their insurance company is only paying a very small amount to them even though they had great coverage. The two-story house was flooded through the first floor and filled with mud and marsh. Apparently since the marsh didn't reach the ceiling of the first floor, there was a "no damage" verdict on the second floor. They barely have enough from their insurance company to demolish and start over. I could go on and on.....

I live in a FEMA trailer. I've never been a deadbeat and I have a good job here in New Orleans. I can't move away because I share custody of my 3 kids with my ex-husband and he won't let me move the kids out of state. I also have an 80% mortgage on my damaged home that I purchased a year before the storm and I did have flood insurance. Unfortunately, my home was damaged 50% and I can't get a building permit to fix it until I raise it to confirm to new flood elevation standards. Right now in NO, it costs about $100,000 to raise a slab home the 3 or 4 feet I would have to raise it. My mortgage company is holding on to the 50% recovery I got from my insurance company until I submit receipts that I paid contractors to fix my home (which is not happening until I can come up with the $100,000 to raise my house). If you're good at math you can also see that the 50% insurance recovery is not enough to pay off the 80% I owe on the home, so I still am making mortgage payments. I don't want to live in the FEMA trailer, but I can't afford my mortgage and rent a place here in NO and I can't leave. I'm not complaining and I'm not suing anyone over the smell of my trailer either. I just wish people would not be so quick to judge everyone forced to live in a trailer. I'm doing everything in my power to get out of it, but it takes so much time to accomplish anything here now. You have no idea unless you would be forced to live down here yourself. If you can't walk a mile in my shoes, then at least be Christian enough to keep your insulting comments to yourself.

For almost a month me and my two young kids have been suffering with burning eyes, headaches and sinus problems. I am really concerned about this problem now and wondering who I can speak to regarding this matter.

Go ahead, name the manufacturers under scrutiny. They skipped the curing process for materials and should be made to recall the trailers and refund us the $$$.

Don't let them get away with this!

Boy, I can't believe some of the comments I've read. For those of you who think everyone living in a trailer is a "slacker", you need to read the message from Rhonda in Mississippi. What are retired folks supposed to do, go get a job as a greeter at Wal Mart? Y'all need to cut these folks some slack. This kind of disaster could happen to anyone, even you with the "holier than thou" attitude. My guess is you'll be singing a different tune then.

Why doesn't the government pay the people of New Orleans for the cleanup work instead of all the illegal Mexicans? Makes no sense at all.

It's frustrating to me that people continue to blame the victims of Katrina. Only a handful of people took advantage of a terrible situation, and that same crowd continues to do so. The majority of people who suffered are hard-working, and the outpouring of support by so many people throughout the country should be applauded. I am originally from earthquake country, and I would hope that if that 'big one' ever hits in Seattle, people will band together and help each other out, instead of pointing fingers and name-calling. The Gulf Coast is still a disaster, and it will take a long time yet to get it back in shape. There is still no electricity in parts of New Orleans, and it only became available to the trailer in my neighborhood a few weeks ago. After waiting nearly a year I have finally been able to move back, but when I arrived I nearly had to be hospitalized because of the fumes--even with the doors and windows open. Without phone service or cable (and no dates when those services will arrive in my neighborhood) I'm doing everything I can to get and stay informed, and this is the first time I've heard that this problem is affecting more than just me. At the very least, FEMA should ensure that the contracting agencies who are completing the paperwork and getting residents into trailers are informing them of the potential for harm, how to avoid getting ill, and where to go for treatment if needed. I looked and there is no formaldehyde warning anywhere in the trailer nor in the paperwork I signed.

well i was affected by rita we evacuated to nowhere slept in a parking lot 11 of us and 3 dogs one 3 year old and my 73 year old mother upon returning home from the evacuation on october 6 when the water and lights were back on my mother was kill in a car accident but after katrina she said god did that to clean new orleans up from the gangs and drugs and trash katrina means cleansing maybe that is what he had in mind it wasn't the hurricane that killed it was the levee 80% of new orleans was louisiana's trash even now they have gangs i say starve them sob's out get the kids and the old out and let the rest die in there old filth.

As a follow-up to my previous post, I did an experiment today toward the goal of being able to provide a bit of scientific insight.

Mother's house, which is in East Texas, has a walk-in attic, and it also has a top-of-the line roof vent fan along with eave vents and windows at each end. I opened the windows about 16 inches early this morning (two sets of double windows for a total open area of approximately 15 square feet, not including the eave vents and the ridge vent) and changed the thermostat setting on the roof vent fan so that the fan ran continuously throughout the day. The roof also has a ridge vent system--so, there is plenty of ventilation, especially when the roof vent fan is running continuously. The roof vent fan is rated at 1,500 cubic feet per minute air flow.

It is 18:08 in the evening, now--and, the wall thermometer that I got at Wal-Mart is reading 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

To be precise, (a) it is six o'clock in the evening (Central Standard Time) here in the fabulous Gulf Coast region and (b) it is 105 degrees Fahrenheit in what I think maps very closely to the equivalent of a FEMA travel trailer with the door(s) and windows open to get the marvelous "improved ventilation" that the expert at the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), Kevin Broom, recommends all FEMA travel trailer dwellers should experience firsthand while enjoying the wonderful weather this summer in the beautiful Gulf Coast region.

Noting that the roof is covered with silver asphalt shingles, I think this is quite consistent with the entire travel trailer mileau--except that FEMA travel trailers probably do not have 1,500 cubic feet per minute exhaust fans.

With a bit of dot connecting and quick visits to your MSNBC.com homepage throughout the day to get the current temperature and humidity, I think that it should be quite obvious that if it is 105 degrees Fahrenheit at six o'clock in the evening in the "improved ventilation" area, then it probably was quite a bit hotter up there just a few hours ago.

No doubt, if one consumes a sufficient quantity of water, electrolytes, and generally is in excellent health, then one certainly can deal with 100+ degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, even when the humidity is high (which acts as a multiplier for the heat)--but, what about everyone else (including older and younger folks)?

How difficult could it be for anyone to get a fan, a few cases of Gatorade, several bags of ice, and spend all day and probably all night drinking liquids to avoid heatstroke--espeicially, when just about this time last year everything they had was destroyed virtually instantaneously by a catastrophic hurricane?

The fact of the matter is that it is not so easy, at all!

When one moves into the scientific arena, what one discovers is that "Gulf Coast region" maps to "subtropical", which maps to very hot and very humid at this time of year (even when it is a cool summer, which if you pay attention to the weather has not happened in the Gulf Coast for quite a while).

Having been in the Northeast for a while, I learned that folks in Boston call hot and humid weather "sticky", which is the way it gets there when the temperature is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit on humid days. Well, the "Gulf Coast region" on days like today is "sticky on steroids".

Not exactly the ideal time to turn-off the air-conditioner and open the windows on the FEMA travel trailer to get "improved ventilation".



This is an open letter from a FEMA trailer resident. One day late August of last year many lives were changed. Let me tell you being from Waveland I know first hand. I have seen the best and worst of many people. The worst, having a government that we support, totally unprepared for what happened on it's own soil the people from other parts of America that that call themselves Americans that find only time and effort to point the finger and complain about the recovery. I have to ask, when the men, women and children from your own country were suffering and starving, did you even say a prayer for them? And the best of people that I saw, neighbor helping neighbor even if it was just a shoulder to cry on because for many that's all they had to offer each other but they did it. There are many FEMA trailers here and most are good. But there are many many that have been here for 8 months, yes with the "windows open" like mine and still continue to burn your eyes. In the last 8 months I have documented more illness then I have in the last 20 years of my life. Let me go on to say, my "windows" have never been closed, even in the rain. Yet still the eye burning continues and just recently my wife has developed lumps in her breast. My throat slams shut every time I enter what has been my home for the last 8 months. So yes there is a hugh problem with some of the trailers. I believe they had to produce mass quantities in a very short period of time and never considered the consequences. But through it all here in Waveland neighbor helping neighbor still continues. We made sure our children had Christmas even if they were living in a tent, FEMA had not delivered yet, and maybe they were waiting on Santa! Even the inspector that FEMA sent out would not come inside because she said her eyes burned too much and we could just tell her what she need to know, that was 3 months ago and she has never returned. So I ask, is she still using the same info for her inspection reports? None of us asked for what happened but are making the best of the situation here. People for the most part are working hard to rebuild and recover. I pray it never happens to YOU!

Amen!!! to Mike Scheid. I live in a FEMA travel trailer also. I lived in Pass Christian. I lost everthing i owned. I had Homeowner's Ins., Wind and Hail, AND Flood Insurance. Alot of us are living in these FEMA trailers 1. because like mr. scheid said, rent has drastically gone up because of these money hungry mongrals and 2. contractors...right now have two year waiting lists on building peoples homes. I just called my contractor two weeks ago and he told me it would be 5-6 months before he even started building my home and another 4-5 months before it was finished. Now mind you, i signed the contract April 13 and was expecting at least the slab to be poored...apparently not. I also work full time and go to school. So for those of you that say we are living off of the government, maybe you should think about what you would do if you were in our shoes.
My son is only 3 years old, but there are some residents here whose children are in middle and high school. Those parents know that it would tear those kids apart to have to move. They have already lost everything they have ever known...and you say move them away from their "home" and only friends also. I DON'T THINK SO!!!!. Do most of you guys (outside of the disaster area) realize the housing situation. FEMA has stopped their terminations due to the simple fact that there is truly NO PLACE TO GO. So, if any of the complainers on this website are willing to come build my house quicker than my contractor can and everybody else's house around here just so their "tax dollars" are "saved" then, PLEASE, come on down.

FEMA bent over backwards to help people. And travel trailers are not designed for long-term occupancy.

The residents of these trailers are not supposed to live there forever, they're supposed to find a real place to live, as soon as possible.

This is temporary housing. Perhaps they'd prefer a tent? It would have better ventilation.

yup, I've lived in a trailer and if you simply OPEN THE WINDOW, then the natural atmosphere of the outdoor air, does seem to neutralize these gases.

To Mike from Dallas -

While New Orleans was always primarily below sea level, the problem has gotten worse over the intervening years. Why? The Corps of Engineers, bowing to the pressures of Midwesterners, tried using concrete mats to keep the Mississippi River from wandering and wrecking property lines. Not only did that fail, but this resulted in a greatly diminished sediment supply for the area. Additionally, ground subsidence due to continued oil pumping in the Gulf of Mexico has also contributed.

It may be a stretch to think that New Orleans' suffering is at the hands of the country's needs for oil and Midwesterners' desire for stable property lines, but they are contributing factors. I only mention this because of some of the rather antagonistic comments coming from many in those parts of the country toward the rebuilding of the Coast and New Orleans.

Let me put things into perspective, since most of the posts so far seem to have lost it. More than 100,000 trailers have been brought in and set up on the Gulf Coast and 46 people have complained. That works out to 0.046%! When I mowved into my FEMA trailer in October, I read every piece of literature that came with it. Nowhere was there any documentation about formaldehyde warning or instructions to air out the trailer. I know over 50 people living in FEMA trailers and none of us have notied or complained about potential formaldehyde problems. MSNBC seems to do a great job in presenting the absloutely worst picture of those of us surviving this disaster in MISSISSIPPI, not New Orleans. This site is supposed to be dedicated to our plight in Mississippi, yet people posting here continued to confuse us with N.O.

I have worked full time since the storm, attended USM University at night to receive my Master degree, and am rebuilding my house in my "spare" time every evinging and on weekends. Material shortage is unbelievable! I could not get drywall until January, I pick up interior doors one or two at a time because they are sold out within hours or a day or two upon arrival. It seems all of us putting our homes toegether are on the same schedule; when you get to a phase in construction when you need something, that item is not available in the market. Believe me, everyone in these trailers would much rather be back in their homes. Over 300,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Mississipppi. The current capacity to rebuild these homes is 10,000 a year. We cannot wait 30 years for a home to move into.

As to moving, being stupid for living here, being too stupid to buy insurance, etc., there has not been a hurricane surge of this magnitude since 1699 when Europeans first settled here. That is more than 300 years! There is no archaelogical evidence of this size surge for over 500 years; that makes this at least a 500-year event, some say a 1,500 year event. Does everyone criticizing us insure his/her property for a 1,500 year event? I bet the insurance companies would love that. I live on top of a hill that was not, and is not, in a flood zone, yet I still got 18" of water; just enough to ruin everything.

We will continue to rebuild our homes, our lives, and our communities. I personally am extremely thankful for the FEMA trailer in which my family lives. I am also extremely thankful for all of the private volunteers and donations that have poured in since the storm; these literally have saved our lives.

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