Katrina & Beyond

Family's Sickness Subsides After Move From Trailer

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Lindsay Huckabee and her sons, Steven and Michael.

Lindsay Huckabee and her sons, Steven and Michael, lived in a FEMA trailer until March. Kathy Lohr/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Kathy Lohr/NPR

House members wrangled on Tuesday with manufacturers of trailers FEMA used to shelter people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Among the issues the lawmakers debated were whether unsafe levels of formaldehyde in the trailers caused health problems, whether the government was lax in its oversight standards for toxins and whether companies took health threats seriously.

But there's one thing the Huckabees, who lived in a FEMA trailer until March, don't question: Their health problems have disappeared since they left the trailer.

After their home was destroyed by Katrina, Lindsay and Steve Huckabee lived in a FEMA trailer with their five children in Kiln, Miss. The government moved them to a motel in March, and earlier this week they moved into to a MEMA (Mississippi Emergency Management) cottage.

Lindsay Huckabee says that within three weeks of moving into the motel, her family's health problems vanished. She says there are no more bloody noses or sinus infections: "Nobody is up all night coughing anymore," she says. "We have not been to the doctor since April." Two of her children previously had been hospitalized three times each, she says.

Huckabee says she has not sued the government or the trailer manufacturers, and if she does, she will not join a class action suit because she doesn't believe all the participants have really been harmed.

While the family's health problems have improved, their housing situation is still uncertain. They purchased four acres of a nine-acre lot, only to later discover zoning laws would not allow them to build on the property.

"Basically, we just lost out on what we paid for that property," Huckabee says.



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