Politicians and bureaucrats seem determined to block efforts to release thousands of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) travel trailers for use by Haitian earthquake victims. The sale of approximately 104.000 trailers by the General Services Administration (GSA) has already run into road blocks from the US Recreational Vehicle industry which believes that these auctions will saturate the domestic trailer market and further weaken an industry sector already suffering from a prolonged economic malaise. In addition, health concerns raised by the CDC, coupled with formaldehyde related lawsuits filed by Katrina and Rita hurricane victims, appear to have caused total paralysis in Congress.
The RV industry argument has focused primarily on the poor manufacturing quality of these homes. Recreational Park Trailer Industry Association Executive Director William Garpow said recently, “the FEMA trailers are really non-conforming manufactured homes because they weren’t built to the manufactured housing codes, as federal law requires,” The CDC and others contend that elevated levels of formaldehyde, discovered in some of the FEMA trailers, pose an ongoing health risk. Rep. Bennie Thompson in a letter to FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate expressed concern over the use of existing FEMA travel trailers especially, “given the potential for adverse health affects when used as more than short-term shelter, I would be gravely concerned about distributing these units to the people of Haiti for use as housing.”
Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, the Haitian Interior minister, said recently that, “we have already collected around 50,000 dead bodies [and] we anticipate there will be between 100,000 and 200,000 dead in total, although we will never know the exact number.” Perhaps the RV industry needs to look beyond its own domestic economic concerns and stop decrying the build quality of units that were, after all, built by Americans. The best way to do this would be to support the redeployment of these travel trailer assets to Haiti. Meanwhile, the CDC and other Congressional representatives need to realize that the number of units impacted by formaldehyde is statistically so infinitesimally small as to make little difference. An eleven year old amputee victim living on the streets of Haiti is likely to welcome the opportunity of living in something that comes with four walls and a roof.
”I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” [Helen Keller]
RVIA urges use of former FEMA travel trailers in Haiti
© Copyright 2010 Julian L. Gothard. Protected pursuant to the provisions of the Berne Convention. All rights reserved.
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